The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation announced on Monday that during the month of September it would pardon those who defrauded the corporations $281 million residential grant program if individuals cooperate with officials and return the money.
The grant program began in June 2002 as a way to entice Lower Manhattan residents to remain Downtown and to attract new residents to the area after occupancy rates plunged following the terror attacks. The deadline for applying expired on May 31, 2003, and the corporation has received more than 40,000 applications for assistance, according to Amy Peterson, vice president for development programs and economics at the L.M.D.C.
To date, officials have arrested four people for filing fraudulent grant applications, according to Dyana Lee, vice president for investigations at the L.M.D.C., who has been working closely with the U.S. Attorneys office on the cases. Among them were a woman who doctored her one-year lease to make it look like a two-year lease, and a man who moved to Florida and illegally sublet his apartment while collecting grant money. They were charged with mail fraud and theft of government funds, punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Kevin Rampe, president of the L.M.D.C., had harsh words for offenders who remain unknown.
Either come forward and come clean, or were coming after you, Rampe said.
The corporations own audit team has reviewed hundreds of grant applications for possible fraud, Lee said. Not all of these cases represented actual wrongdoing, Lee said; some were simply the result of residents misunderstanding the process.
To expedite its investigations, the L.M.D.C. is offering applicants the chance to come clean if they submitted fraudulent claims. In order to receive amnesty, individuals must cooperate fully with authorities and return all the money they received.
While it pays to live Downtown, crime doesnt pay, Lee said.
To report fraud, call the L.M.D.C. hotline at 1-866-830-9131. The number is staffed 24 hours a day with English, Chinese and Spanish speaking staff. The amnesty program ends on Sept. 30, 2003.
Want to see Eric Bogosian for free? How about Twyla Tharp? You can at Battery Park during the Evening Stars Music and Dance Festival, which runs from Fri. Sept. 5 through Tues. Sept. 9.
Bogosian and Tharp are just two of the artists participating in five days of dance, music and spoken word performances. The event is sponsored by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council in conjunction with the River to River Festival.
Enter at the south end of Battery Park, at State and Pearl Sts., west of the Staten Island ferry. This is the second year Evening Stars will be held in Battery Park. It was originally held at the World Trade Center Plaza.
Performances begin Fri., Sept. 5, at 8 p.m. with an east-west dance extravaganza performed by the Chinese Folk Dance Company, Parsons Dance, Vincent Mantsoe and Ahn Trio.
Sat. afternoon, Sept. 5 at 2 p.m., there will be a family afternoon of dance, music and clowning around with Dan Zanes & Friends, the National Dance Institute and the New York Goofs.
Sat. evening at 8 p.m., the Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo will spoof classics like Swan Lake.
On Sun., Sept. 7 at 2 p.m., Grammy award winning, singer-songwriter Cassandra Wilson will perform with Daniel Bernard Roumain.
Sun. evening at 8 p.m., Bogosian is joined by Full Circle Productions, DJ Spooky and Guests. Bogosian will perform excerpts from his most recent work and Full Circles crew of hip-hop dancers, rappers and deejays will join in.
Mon., Sept. 8, at 8 p.m. STEB dancers, with their kinetic choreography, will swan dive from scaffolding and bounce on trampolines.
The event wraps up Tues. evening Sept. 9 at 8 p.m. with Twyla Tharps The One Hundreds. Local residents, celebrities and politicians will perform on stage with the company. Performers will be dressed in 1960s fashions and will compete in the costume contest that caps off the evening.
Call 212-219-9401 or go to www.lmcc.net for more information.
In last weeks article on the manhole explosions on Hudson St., Peter Gleason was erroneously identified as an Independence Plaza North resident. He lives in Tribeca but not in I.P.N.