Rep. Flake Accused of Bilking Church Project

From Associated Press

U.S. Rep. Floyd H. Flake was indicted Thursday for conspiracy, fraud and tax evasion in the alleged embezzlement of funds from a federally subsidized senior citizens housing project run by his church.

The indictment, announced by U.S. Atty. Andrew Maloney, listed 17 counts against the New York Democrat and nine against his wife, described as the bookkeeper for the operation.

In addition to his congressional duties, Flake is the pastor of the 156-year-old Allen African Methodist Episcopal Church in Queens. The church built and operates the 300-unit senior-citizen facility.

Maloney said at a news conference that Flake stole about $75,000 in transportation funds from the Allen Senior Citizens Apartments from 1983 to 1987, and diverted another $66,000 in church funds to his own use from 1983 to 1988.

The allegedly misappropriated money was not reported by Flake on federal income tax returns, Maloney said.

The church built the facility with a $10-million grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. HUD also provides $100,000 a month in subsidies for operations, Maloney said.

Flake, in a statement, said he had cooperated fully with the government in an 18-month investigation. He said he and his wife, Margarett, are innocent.

"Our abiding belief in God and in the American system of justice reassures us that, despite the awful price, justice will triumph and we will be vindicated at trial," Flake said.

If convicted on all 17 counts, Flake could be sentenced to 87 years in prison and fined up to $3.95 million. His wife could face penalties of 55 years in prison.

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