The city has cut off funding to Alianza Dominicana — a powerful Washington Heights charity supported by beleaguered Harlem Rep. Charles Rangel – at the same time the Department of Investigation has opened a probe of the group’s finances, The Post has learned.Mayoral spokesman Jason Post confirmed that the Dominican charity headed by prominent community activist Moises Perez is under investigation.
“This group has not received funding because of [it],” Post said in an e-mail.
DOI spokeswoman Diane Struzzi declined to comment on the details of the probe. But sources said it could involve hundreds of thousands in contracts made between the nonprofit and the city in recent years — and a possible commingling of funds between Alianza Dominicana and other companies.
Perez, 54, denied reports in the Spanish-language press that he is temporarily stepping down because of the probe.
“I’m here, aren’t I?” he said from inside Alianza’s Amsterdam Avenue headquarters Thursday. “I’m here and Alianza is open for business as usual.”
When pressed, he added, “We’re in talks with the city.”
The city is in discussion with the Alianza board “so they can take necessary corrective actions so that contract renewals can proceed,” Post said.
Perez’s group has received more than $66 million in city contracts since it started in 1985, records show. It currently has $76,983 in its bank account, according to its most recent available tax filings.
Last week, The Post reported that Democratic Congressman Rangel signed off on a $2.6 million taxpayer-funded grant to the troubled nonprofit in June.
The money from the Rangel-sponsored Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone is earmarked for a sleek, glass $19-million building that will house Alianza’s new headquarters in Harlem. A finance director at the Empowerment Zone objected to the grant, but was overruled and left the group over the deal.
According to city land records, Alianza took out two mortgages totaling $5.3 million to construct the 48,000-square-foot headquarters. Both loans were guaranteed by the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone.
The group has long been lauded as a lifeline for poor Dominicans. But lately it’s run into trouble with its finances, according to documents obtained by The Post.
Alianza owed $526,000 in back wages to 300 employees last month, the Labor Department said. The group recently paid off a portion of it, but still owes $258,000, said a Labor Department spokesman.
A 2008 audit found “significant deficiencies in internal control over financial reporting.” Public documents show that the group has owed money to the IRS, building suppliers and the state Insurance Fund.
Additional reporting by Susan Edelman