John Dunleavy, the former chairman of the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Celebration Committee, had a spring in his step when he marched with the United Irish Counties on Fifth Avenue yesterday, with good reason: the New York State Attorney General’s office has closed its investigation into allegations that he misused parade funds during his tenure as chairman, and Cardinal Timothy Dolan greeted him with a warm embrace on the steps of St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
The inquiry was prompted by a letter and supporting documentation sent from the parade’s board of directors, signed by Executive Secretary Hilary Beirne, to the Charities Bureau of the Attorney General’s office last November. The letter outlined a number of financial improprieties that a forensic audit of the parade’s finances uncovered last year: among them, that Dunleavy used the parade’s credit card to purchase the male enhancement pill Triverex in multiple charges in 2012 and 2013, and other purchases including hotel stays, restaurant and clothing charges totaling more than $30,000.
John Sheehan, head of the Attorney General’s Charities Bureau, found that the alleged financial mismanagement did not rise to the level that would warrant further action from his office. The letter was sent by the parade’s board to ensure compliance with its non-profit 501 (c) (3)status.
Sources close to the investigation told the Irish Voice/IrishCentral that Sheehan is satisfied the parade’s board acted promptly by removing Dunleavy from his former position as head of parade’s operations, and that new controls are in place under new board chairman Dr. John Lahey, president of Quinnipiac University in Connecticut.
The Charities Bureau would possibly instigated further action if the new controls hadn’t been in place, the source said, but the amount of alleged financial irregularity didn’t warrant further action on the agency’s part.
Besides Dunleavy, the other former parade officials noted in the board’s letter to the Charities Bureau, Michael Cassels and Carla Chadwick, are no longer officially affiliated with the parade: last September Cassels repaid the board with a check for $1,752.86, which covered the amount that he billed the parade for expenses that had been previously paid to him. Cassels was also expelled from his board membership. Chadwick, who had worked as Dunleavy’s “executive secretary,” is also no longer affiliated with the parade.
Francis Young, Dunleavy’s attorney based in White Plains, Westchester, County, issued a press release on Wednesday that stated in part, “These false charges were deliberately and recklessly made by Dr. Lahey and Hilary Beirne against Mr. Dunleavy and others in order to distract from their hostile and illegal takeover of the New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade.
“Instead of trying to quietly address these purported accusations within the confines of the board, Dr. Lahey and Mr. Beirne chose to conduct an orchestrated and sustained publicity campaign in the pages of Irish Central defaming the good names and reputations of Mr. Cassels, Ms. Chadwick and Mr. Dunleavy. 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 17th so that they can proudly hold their heads up high as they celebrate and honor the glorious St. Patrick! “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.
“This episode shows that Dr. Lahey and Hilary Beirne have lacked the courage,
honor and integrity to quietly and respectfully resolve their issues with Mr. Dunleavy in
private. Their actions have caused a tremendous amount of damage to the goodwill of the parade, especially with the affiliated organizations who are the heart and soul of the parade.”
The affiliates were out in force yesterday, including all of the county organizations led by the United Irish Counties. Dunleavy marched in the front line of the UIC contingent, and wore the organization sash.
Dunleavy made his way to Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who was reviewing the parade from the steps of St. Patrick’s Cathedral and customarily greets the leaders of many of the early marching contingents. The cardinal greeted Dunleavy, a staunch and vocal opponent of gay groups having a place in the parade line of march, with a long and clearly heartfelt embrace.