On the basis of information brought to light by NLPC, Nigerian-born physician Dorothy Ogundu was arrested yesterday. She is charged with multiple counts of grand larceny, forgery and falsifying business records by the New York State Attorney General.
Ogundu ran a Queens, New York health clinic for which Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) secured $380,500 in federal funds. She is a prominent Meeks supporter, and until yesterday, a fixture of the Queens political scene.
After reviewing Meeks’ earmarks in 2011, NLPC decided to take a closer look at Angeldocs, Inc., which operates the Aki Life Health Center. The New York Post published a major exposé of the Center in April 2012, based on information provided on an exclusive basis by NLPC. Subsequently, NLPC filed a Complaint with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) against Angeldocs, alleging self-dealing and inurement by Ogundu.
A visit to the clinic by Post reporters found it “dusty, unheated” and having “no visible patients or staff.” According to the Post, “Ogundu, who is the only clinic staff member, refused to say how many patients she treats or whether she has malpractice insurance.” The building had never received a certificate of occupancy from New York City. Listed as a director on Angeldocs documents is a Dr. Jasmin Moshirpur, who told the Post that he had never heard of the charity.
In addition to the federal funds arranged by Meeks, Angeldocs received New York State and City funding. In April 2012, it owed more than $300,000 is back property taxes on the clinic for the years 2007 through 2010. New York Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Queens) sponsored legislation to retroactively exempt Angeldocs from property taxes.
Angeldocs was incorporated by Ogundu in 2003 and was granted 501(c)(3) nonprofit tax status by the IRS. In 2006, Angeldocs signed a ten-year lease on the building that houses the clinic for $14,000 per month, or $168,000 annually, plus taxes and utilities. The landlord was NNOC Realty, LLC, owned by none other than Ogundu, which had purchased the building in 2005.
If this deal was not good enough for Ogundu, she made it even sweeter in 2010 when her realty company sold the building to Angeldocs. The New York State Real Property Transfer Report was signed by Dorothy Ogundu as Buyer for Angeldocs, Inc. and also signed by Dorothy Ogundu as Seller for NNOC Realty, Inc. The certification for that same document was also signed by Dorothy Ogundu as Buyer and Dorothy Ogundu as Seller. All four Ogundu signatures were dated December 18, 2010.
IRS regulations prohibit self-dealing by principals of nonprofits groups and require that any conflicts be disclosed on the group’s annual tax return. On none of the IRS Form 990s for Angeldocs, signed by Ogundu as president, did she ever disclose that she engaged in such a large and lucrative relationship. When asked on Form 990 about any business relationship between Angeldocs and “any current or former officer, director, trustee, or key employee,” Dorothy Ogundu checked the “No” box.
As alleged in NLPC’s Complaint to the IRS, both the lease arrangement and the ultimate sale of the property violate IRS rules against officers and directors of charities personally profiting from the operation of the charity. From the Complaint:
Nothing in any public record suggests how Dr. Ogundu negotiated the sale price with Dr. Ogundu. An individual running a purported charity who negotiates with herself over the sale of an asset worth close to one million dollars is about as clear an example of self-dealing as one could imagine.
Indeed, the Complaint alleges that the principal purpose of Angeldocs appears to be to benefit Ogundu. From 2006 to 2010, its biggest single financial obligation was to Ogundu’s real estate company.
Tax-exempt organizations must have a charitable purpose. The Angeldocs web page reveals little or nothing of any real programming. While it has a selection of general statements about health, their mission, etc., missing is any specific programming of the sort one might expect from a charity with their stated mission. There are no staff or volunteers listed, nor are there any scheduled events, classes or activities. The “Get Involved” pull-down menu has one item listed: “donations,” yet there is no information on how to donate or get involved.
As far as we know, the IRS has taken no action in response to our Complaint, even though we presented specific and verified details of Ogundu’s out-and-out fraud. The IRS could have levied taxes on the group’s revenue and/or revoked its tax-exempt status. During the same time period, the IRS devoted significant efforts to harassing, and stalling the exemptions of, Tea Party and conservative groups.
The indictment by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman alleges that Ogundu “stole” a total of $373,000 that came from portions of twelve separate government grants. She swindled the federal government out of $195,000; New York state out of $87,000, and New York City out of $195,000. Ogundu allegedly used the funds to pay the mortgage and utilities on the building she owned, as well as buy and ship cars to her native Nigeria. Click here to download a pdf of the 29-page indictment.
Nonprofit organizations seem to be a favored vehicle for corruption by Queens politicians. It was Meeks involvement with another nonprofit called the New Direction Local Development Corporation that drew headlines in 2010 when NLPC exposed the fact that the group raised money for Hurricane Katrina victims who never received the aid.
In 2009, it was revealed that Meeks took six trips to Caribbean destinations such as Antigua and St. Lucia, sometimes accompanied by his wife, sponsored by the so-called Inter-American Economic Council. This nonprofit was funded almost entirely by R. Allen Stanford, who was convicted last year of operating a multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme.