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NYC parade fund-raiser accused of fraud

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NEW YORK — A self-serving fund-raiser bilked the nation’s foremost Puerto Rican heritage celebration of $1 million amid lax oversight from the city Puerto Rican Day parade’s organizers, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said Thursday.

Fund-raiser Carlos Velasquez underreported how much he collected from sponsors, put money that was supposed to go to scholarships toward parade floats, and used donated airline vouchers for personal trips, Schneiderman said. He announced a settlement that will cost Velasquez more than $1 million and entailed the resignations of half of the parade board’s members.

Parade organizers gave Velasquez wide latitude, failing to adopt annual budgets or conduct audits, giving him a 10-year contract renewal without soliciting bids, and racking up a $1 million debt to him because of expenses he incurred on the parade’s behalf.

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