By Ray O’Hanlon
John Dunleavy has been cleared of any wrongdoing in the matter of parade finances – this on the basis of a decision by the office of the New York State Attorney General not to take any action against the former chairman of the New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
The decision not to pursue allegations against Mr. Dunleavy was matched by an identical decision in the case of similar allegations made against Mr. Michael Cassels and Ms. Carla Chadwick.
Dunleavy, speaking on Fifth Avenue before last Thursday’s New York parade, said he felt thoroughly vindicated by the decision not to pursue allegations of financial impropriety against him – allegations that were sourced in the parade board.
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As the Daily News reported it: “Allegations of financial shenanigans by the ousted head of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade committee were dismissed Wednesday as a bunch of blarney.”
Frank Young, Mr. Dunleavy’s attorney, said that he had received “official word” from James G. Sheehan, Esq., the Chief of the New York State Attorney General’s Charities Bureau, that the Charities Bureau “has officially closed the investigation into the allegations against Mr. Michael Cassels, Ms. Carla Chadwick and Mr. John Dunleavy.”
The Attorney General’s office had been in receipt of a letter from the parade board last November pointing to expenditure of roughly $24,000 in questionable credit card charges over three years for trips that didn’t seem connected to the parade’s business or core-mission.
The letter had followed an internal audit of parade finances and was followed by board representatives publicly making the point that new and stricter legal regulations for non-profits required the parade’s business to be conducted by the book.
“Dunleavy was accused of spending company money for personal items, but the attorney general dismissed the allegations,” the Daily News report stated.
After the allegations became public, Mr. Dunleavy, while defending the expenditures, also offered to repay the parade for any spending ultimately deemed to be unjustified.
Attorney Young, in response to the decision from the Attorney General’s office, said that as he had “emphatically stated from the beginning, these false charges were deliberately and recklessly made” against Mr. Dunleavy and others in order to distract from the “hostile and illegal takeover of the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade.”
Mr. Young stated that at the September 2015 meeting of the board, Dunleavy, Cassels and Chadwick had been accused of misusing parade assets in connection with “recurring out-of-town trips for which there was no indication that said trips were related to company business, let alone that they had prior approval by the Corporation.”
Added Mr. Young: “The trips for which they accused Mr. Dunleavy of misappropriating parade assets were trips that Mr. Cassels, Ms. Chadwick and Mr. Dunleavy took to Washington, D.C. in response to invitations that they received from the Commanding Generals of Joint Base Headquarters/Military District Washington of the United States Armed Forces (the “MDW”). These trips were the start of a strong relationship between the MDW and the NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade.”
From the beginning, said Mr. Young “we knew that these accusations were patently false” because not only did the board discuss these trips at their board meetings, but also shared pictures of these trips as part of the parade social media campaign.
Instead of trying to quietly address these purported accusations within the confines of the board, Mr. young pointed to “an orchestrated and sustained publicity campaign” that had the effect of “defaming the good names and reputations of Mr. Cassels, Ms. Chadwick and Mr. Dunleavy.”
Mr. Young added: “We chose not to address these false accusations in the media, but rather let the investigation takes its course. Today, they have all been vindicated by the New York State Attorney General’s Office.
“We are grateful to Charities Bureau for conducting a thorough and fair investigation into this matter and making every effort to resolve this matter by March 17.
“These attacks upon the integrity of Mr. Dunleavy, Mr. Cassels and Ms. Chadwick not only affected their reputations within the Irish-American community, but have also taken its toll upon their emotional well-beings and threatened their Livelihoods,” he said.
Meanwhile, a resumed hearing following the filing of legal papers by Mr. Dunleavy, and a counter filing from the parade board, which was set for Bronx Superior Court this Thursday has been postponed until Monday, March 28.