Monday, February 26, 2007

Evidence of Financial and Employee Fraud at NYYM

Dear Friend,

I call on New York Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (NYYM) sometimes called 'Quakers' to show its members, and representatives of wider bodies, its payroll records and time sheets for the past two years, for all NYYM employees.

I also call on NYYM to answer discrepancies noted in potentially $100,000 spent out of a total $530,000 annual operating expenditure of New York Yearly Meeting, located at 15 Rutherford Place, New York City.

These wider bodies are: Friends General Conference (Philadelphia) FGC, Friends United Meeting (Indiana) FUM , and Friends World Committee for Consultation (London) FWCC .

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The total 2007 Approved New York Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (NYYM) Operating Budget is approximately $530,000

Evidence will show potentially:

- Full-time salaries are being paid for partial no-show jobs

o estimated cost of such could be up to $80,000 per year

o one or more employees might have moonlighting jobs

- Budget lines of the Operating Budget have been purposely misstated for years

o one known example is the Office Rent (and surcharges)

- Treasurer’s reports beginning balance for one year and ending balances of the previous year did not equal on at least 3 occasions in the last 5 years

o this is obvious malfeasance hiding in plain sight in the Yearbooks

- NYYM audits are very superficial and are very unlikely to show any impropriety – note the low cost not found anywhere in the budget

o also note that New York Quarterly Meeting hires an Auditor for approximately $13,000 per year, and said costs is obviously noted in its one million dollar annual expense budget.

- there is potential for a personal relationship and potentially a conflict of interest between a bookkeeping service principal and one of the NYYM Trustees, a former Treasurer of NYYM

o It is highly unlikely that there are more than 50 transactions per month, not including payroll, (the NYYM Treasurer refuses to share the average number of transactions per month) and this number of transactions, double entry or single entry, could be logged by a bookkeeper in ½ day per week – total cost approximately $5,000 per year. Total cost of Bookkeeping service is now budgeted at $28,200, which includes payroll services

o outsourced Payroll services for three full time employees and one or two part time costs approximately $1,000 - $2,500 per year (costs that BaltYM, NEYM incur respectively)

o the NYYM Clerk of General Services Coordinating Committee has also refused to share NYYM’s Financial Management Guidelines, announced in the 2004 Yearbook on page 20, which ostensibly describe the inner workings of the financial transactions between the bookkeeping service, the Treasurer (in Buffalo) and the office (in New York City). The Clerk of General Services Coordinating Committee is also the Treasurer of the Trustees of NYYM.

o So, we wonder where over $20,000 – 25,000 per year has gone each year ?

- The rent for the NYYM office has been misrepresented on proposed and approved Operating Budgets for at least the past 3 years

o NYYM has stonewalled any discussion on moving the Yearly Meeting office to a more affordable and central location

§ again, those who serve on the key NYYM committees and positions are mostly paid employees of other ‘Quaker’ organizations which has caused a conflict of interest in contradiction to good governance

I find it ironic, possibly hypocritical that the NYYM General Secretary was in attendance recently in New York City to witness a tax resistance case in Federal Court. This because NYYM has questionable internal governance issues of its own, including financial non-transparency, into which we will delve in this communication. I’ve created a tax revolt of my own to try and bring the NYYM government to account – to be transparent to its members.

At this moment, NYYM is asking New York Quarterly Meeting, a growing urban Quarter, however still very dependent on trust funds given by dead Friends for the maintenance of the Society, to meet its financial commitment to NYYM for 2006. This is because the largest Monthly Meeting of NYQM, (also the largest MM in NYYM) failed to make its budget in 2006. I think that New York Quarterly Meeting Friends might have become wise, in that deep down they knew in short changing their giving to their Meeting’s budgets, all with very high percentages going to NYYM, what I, a former member of said Quarter, am about to comprehensively and publicly expose here.

The NYYM General Secretary has the ultimate oversight of all NYYM office operations, at least in his very vague job description it does give us that assurance, although he attends the NYYM office less than one day per week on average. We have no time and task specific job descriptions for the other full and part time employees other than the self-descriptions on page 38 - here. How can the General Secretary have ultimate oversight over the office if he’s not there more than four days per week? First and foremost, there exists evidence of questionable non-attendance by one or two of the three full-time employees at the NYYM office for which NYYM spend tens of thousands of dollars per year to rent. In addition, there are hundreds of thousands of dollars per year spent in these full time salaries, and part time hourly wages.

It is time for Friends to ask NYYM to come to account for the evidence of employee and financial fraud presented in this letter. (The elite NYYM members have seen the evidence of employee fraud in late 2006, however it is questionable as whether they will do anything considering the front-and-center potential cover-up the General Secretary gave in his Fall report. The General Secretary, hence, is apparently the mouthpiece for the NYYM elite and .

I intend to name the NYYM elite in a later communication. [Update 11/5/2007 - Here are the elite who should resign]Again, these are the Trustees, the Treasurer, and in key committee clerking positions who have been given, or have usurped a large amount of power due to the complacence of the total NYYM membership – which as I have stated – is probably really 1,500, not 3,500. I cast no aspersions on any individual’s power-hungry or egoistic character when these persons are placed in the religious group dynamic of a detached elite.

The General Secretary is paid approximately $75,000 per year in addition to full benefits (now including retirement) and at least 4 weeks vacation per year. He works mostly from his home, and lives in a rural area approximately 100 miles from New York City. He pays his own way into New York City on his less than once per week visits to NYYM office. The General Secretary of Baltimore YM is paid around $60,000 per year and must live in the Baltimore/Washington metro area. The Field Secretary of New England Yearly Meeting works from his home in the Boston metropolitan area, visits the office in Worcester approximately once per week, and is paid approximately 50,000 per year. Both Baltimore and New England Yearly Meetings have been growing slowly but steadily for the past 35 years. NEYM and Baltimore YM also spend approximately 1/3 less per year than NYYM.

The NYYM Administrative Secretary is paid approximately $60,000 per year, in addition to retirement benefits, and has worked for NYYM for approximately 15 years. The Administrative Secretary was the former Editor of Spark in September 2003.

These and others may have committed employee fraud against the members of NYYM who (thankfully still) mostly pay their salaries. I’ve written about the vitality of Friends, and part of this vitality includes living within our means and maintaining the direct financial connection Friends have with our religious lives – including with our paid employees. There are trust funds at various monthly and quarterly meetings in NYYM which dim this connection, but mostly the members of NYYM are responsible to give their own money for the costs that the Society incurs.

Please feel free to examine the evidence – a log of random office visits and telephone calls to confirm attendance and non-attendance of the key personnel. If the personnel were not in when the callers called randomly, What about the times the office was not called ? How many times were they not in on those occasions? After considering those questions - then examine the potential cover-up in the General Secretary’s Report Fall 2006. Pretty slick. Especially since the evidence was delivered to the elite electronically and to the paid employees a month before the General Secretary’s fall report.

The General Secretary has also tried to obtain a refund from New York Quarterly Meeting (the landlord for the office) or from Friends Seminary (another tenant in the building doing construction) for 2007 somehow because NYYM is in dire financial straits due to mismanagement. Why would a landlord give a reimbursement to a tenant for 2007 for things that happened in 2006?

Regarding this ‘refund’ - complaints that the NYYM employees were forced to inhabit small and ‘deplorable’ conditions over the summer of 2006, were laughable, especially since two of the three employees were severely overweight at that time. According to a former New York Quarterly Meeting employee the temporary NYYM office for the summer of 2006, was an above-ground space, and was actually nicer than their normal underground digs.

NYYM has also misstated (I believe on purpose) the ‘Office Rent’ line in the NYYM budget for at least 3 years – stating office rent at $23,800 per year for each year 2005, 2006 and 2007. The Clerk of Financial Services received a letter, copied to me, also on the Financial Services Committee, from New York Quarterly Meeting in June 2006, stating that the ”rent for the NYYM office will stay unchanged for 2007 at $25,500 per year”. The letter also stated that The Yearly Meeting office will be surcharged approximately $2,000 per month in electricity costs – bringing the total cost for 2007 – to $27,500. The Clerk of Financial Services disallowed the amount on the 2007 proposed and now approved budget to change from $23,800.

Financial Malfeasance
Treasurer Report Alteration
163,234
188,702
203,520
207,699

Opening Balance

381,602
416,916
427,785
487,570

Total Receipts

364,754
399,595
422,135
490,869

Total Disbursements







$180,082
$206,023
$209,170
$204,400

Closing Balance

2001
2002
2003
2004



Administrative Costs


Early in my short career on the Financial Services Committee of New York Yearly Meeting, I asked the Treasurer, still the Treasurer today, why couldn’t we have more detail on various expense lines – for example, the expense line – Administrative Cost.

His answer was simply that the Bookkeeping Service would have to charge us more.

This is why our curiosity is going to have to keep coming back to this phantom bookkeeping service, for which we have no name, and no assurances that there is not a conflict of interest between the service and those who contract and work with it in NYYM.

Future postings are being planned for this weblog:

- Recommendations for implementation of signed annual statements confirming explicit or implicit conflicts of interest by NYYM Trustees, Treasurer, Committee Clerks, and Employees

- Recommendations for NYYM committee and position resignations

- An open letter to FGC, FUM and FWCC regarding the need for their oversight into corruption at NYYM and a decision (without participation of NYYM representatives) regarding suspension of representation of NYYM to those wider bodies


Go to the most recent - Misrepresentation of membership numbers - in the previous post

Go to the next previous post regarding Censorship and the lack of independent oversight at NYYM