THE BRONX - A director of a Bronx youth group is being charged with stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from the kids she was supposed to be helping.
The indictments come after years of investigations surrounding Earnestine Russell, the executive director of Baychester Youth Council.
Russell received a federal grant in 2008 for more than $2.7 million to be dispersed by the state over a period of five years. The money was supposed to go toward a new community learning center to support after-school programs for middle school kids.
In 2012, an audit by the state comptroller's office found that Russell had used more than $250,000 for "inappropriate or undocumented expenses including a home theater."
The grant was then revoked and the district attorney's office began investigating.
Prosecutors now say their investigation discovered that between 2009 and 2011, Russell allegedly moved grant money into various bank accounts, then made cash withdrawals, wrote checks to cash and made wire transfers.
The DA's office alleges that during that two-year period, Russell's gambling records show that she bet more than $150,000, which she initially denied.
Russell then said that money was her winnings before telling officials she could "make whatever use of the money" she saw fit.
In all, prosecutors say Russell stole $112,000 in grant money. She is now charged with second-degree grand larceny and second-degree criminal possession of stolen property.
She was arraigned in Bronx Supreme Court Wednesday and is due back in court on Aug. 9.