On Monday, three individuals were arrested and accused of stealing more than $50,000 from a lunch program for senior citizens, including Veda Jamoona, a staffer in Comptroller John Liu’s government office. In the wake of her arrest, a spokesperson for Mr. Liu said Ms. Jamoona has been suspended without pay “until further notice.”
“We have been informed by the NYC Dept. of Investigation that Ms. Veda Jamoona was arrested yesterday morning for conduct unrelated to her employment at the Comptroller’s office,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “Ms. Jamoona has been suspended without pay until further notice. Veda Jamoona has been employed since Jan. 17, 2012 as a public affairs associate at the annual salary of $55,000.”
Ms. Jamoona is not the only Liu staffer dealing with legal woes. In a completely unrelated matter, Jenny Hou, the former treasurer of Mr. Liu’s still-unannounced mayoral campaign, was arrested and charged with orchestrating a straw donor scheme in February of last year. Ms. Hou pleaded innocent and her trial is ongoing.
The charges in question against Ms. Jamoona involve “a kickback arrangement” where the owner of Sonny’s Roti Shop would submit falsely inflated invoices for lunches served to senior citizens and then share the profits. The two other individuals accused of participating in the scheme are the shop’s owner, Steven Rajkumar, and Ms. Jamoona’s mother, Chan Jamoona.
“Defendant Veda Jamoona, defendant Chan Jamoona’s daughter, served as an Executive Director of United Hindu Cultural Council (‘UHCC’) from in or around February 2007 to in or around August 2008,” the indictment against her stated. “She was appointed to this position after her mother stepped down from the position of Executive Director (defendant Chan Jamoona was also UHCC’s Founder). Defendant Veda Jamoona, along with the other defendants, participated in the scheme to steal money from the NYC Department for the Aging (‘DFTA’) by submitting false Contract Invoice and Service Reports to DFTA. These reports inflated the tally of lunches actually served to seniors at UHCC and incorporated inflated costs of the monthly bills purportedly issued by Sonny’s Roti Shop (formerly Singh’s Roti Shop), the caterer for the senior lunch program at UHCC.”
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Department of Investigation Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn announced the news yesterday in a statement that slammed the defendants’ “personal greed.”
“By stealing from the senior center lunch program, the defendants put personal greed ahead of the basic needs of New York seniors,” Mr. Schneiderman said. “When it comes to services vital for our seniors, we cannot accept fraud as a cost of doing business. My office will prosecute fraud in critical New York programs to the fullest extent of the law.”