Brooklyn subway shooter suspect’s social services group pays leaders big money
The Bronx nonprofit, which provided group therapy for accused subway gunman Frank James, is paying big money to its top executives while running a massive deficit, prompting critics to call for greater scrutiny .
James, who terrorized New Yorkers by allegedly opening fire on a rush hour N train earlier this month, attended group therapy at Argus Community Inc. at 760 East 160th Street in the months leading up to the April 12 shooting, which injured 29 people.
The group has $84.3 million in state contracts and raised $35.5 million from all sources in its 2020 fiscal year – but paid $24.2 million in salaries and ended up record an operating deficit of $1.5 million, according to its audited financial statements.
Argus paid out more than $450,000 to longtime CEO Richard Weiss in 2019, and more than $200,000 to five other executives, according to its latest tax return.
Four other Argus bosses are raising more than $125,000, the documents show.
Councilman Robert Holden (D-Queens), who introduced a bill requiring the city to report on the performance of the city’s homeless shelters, said he was not surprised by the big salaries organisation.
“It’s kind of the same for a lot of so-called non-profit organizations. You would think the CEO or management would take a pay cut if the nonprofit is in the red,” he said.
Attorney Maria Danzilo, a Democratic candidate for the Upper Manhattan state Senate, was shocked by the group’s expenses.
“What are they doing for all that money… There has been inadequate oversight of our social service providers… You need oversight of these entities. They have a high payroll and there are no metrics to ensure they do their job,” she said.
James, who said he has a diagnosed mental illness, attended group therapy sessions at Argus, a former attendee told the Post. It’s unclear why it stopped and Argus didn’t return any messages.
“The Frank James thing, obviously it’s not an exact science of mental health…but there should be a way to gauge their performance,” Holden said.
The accused shooter has denounced the city’s mental health services in hundreds of videos he posted on social media, at one point stating, “Mr. Mayor, I’m a victim of your mental health program .
Argus provides drug, HIV and behavioral health treatment, as well as clean needles, to homeless people and others in need. It offers dozens of programs, including state-mandated screening for those arrested for drunk driving and operates two homeless shelters in Harlem.
The group’s headquarters also received a slew of 911 calls over the past 16 months: 52 calls to the Bronx site in 2021 and 25 such calls so far this year, the NYPD said.
Last year, 29 of those emergency calls were requests for an ambulance, nine crimes, including a theft, and a disorderly group. In 2022, 14 of the calls were for ambulances and six for crimes including robbery and theft, as well as three burglaries of a construction site and a parked vehicle.
While Argus pays its bosses well, the largesse apparently doesn’t extend to its workers.
“It’s the worst organization you can work for. They just pay executives all the money and crumbs for everyone else,” said a former employee at the Indeed job site.
“This company is very cheap. The salaries are horrible,” said a current employee on Glassdoor.
Customers have also complained about the quality of service online, with a Google Maps review saying staff were “unprofessional and very disrespectful”.
“This place should be shut down. All they care about is $$$$$$$$,” wrote another.
In 2018, as Argus sought to open a new methadone clinic in Harlem, locals complained, according to Gothamist.
“It’s a cross between The Walking Dead, The Wire and Mardi Gras,” a Harlemite told the outlet, nearby addiction clinics. “We told the police that we don’t care if they get arrested, we don’t want them thrown in jail… What we would really like them to do is go away .”
The organization brought in $12.7 million in federal and local grants, plus an additional $13.1 million from Medicaid, food stamps and Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, in its 2020 fiscal year, the most recent available.
|name||Title||Argus pays||Other salary||Total|
|Cynthia Dela Rosa||please||$187,088||$29,693||$216,781|
It is also supported by the New York Times Company Foundation, the JP Morgan Chase Foundation and several private foundations of wealthy families, according to its annual report.
One of Argus’ affiliates, BOOM! Health, provided needles that addicts use to shoot in the Bronx’s Patterson Playground, which The Post says has the loosest needles of any park in the borough.
Charity Watchdog Charity Navigator said the company spent 13.4% of its spending on administration and 86.6% on services.
“Given the size of the organization, I don’t see anything alarming about the compensation of the leaders of this organization,” said Kevin Doyle of Charity Navigator, who added that the watchdog considers the number of expenses of ‘Argus as “reasonable”.