The unnamed New York City nonprofit that appears to provide few services yet rakes in millions in taxpayer money, as described by a state anti-corruption panel, bears a strong resemblance to a Brooklyn agency.
The state’s Moreland Commission, in a report issued last week, described its surveillance of a questionable storefront in New York City that received almost $3 million in pork-barrel funds to provide various medical services “with little scrutiny and no medical oversight.” The money came from a “geographically and politically diverse group of some of the state’s most powerful lawmakers.”
The report notes the “investigation remains in its early stages, and it is possible that the organization provides laudable services to the public,” and emphasizes that it has “found no impropriety to date and reached no conclusion at this time.”
The commission went as far as mounting a camera on a pole outside the nonprofit and recorded little foot traffic to the charity’s offices during a 25-day period.
The lone employee inside told an investigator that most of the group’s activities were in other states and two other countries and that it sublet office space to another nonprofit.
Relief Resources Inc. occupies a storefront at 5904 13th Ave. in Borough Park, a location it shares with the group Refuah Resources. There is a telephone pole directly outside that would provide an ideal location for a camera. A Post investigation based on public records suggests Relief Resources might be the unnamed nonprofit described in the Moreland Commission report, but officials have not confirmed this.
Relief Resources, according to its Web site, provides referral services aimed at helping those in the Jewish community cope with mental-health issues. It has offices in two other countries — Canada and Israel — as well as in New Jersey and upstate Monroe.
The agency has used the services of the Albany lobbying firm Malkin & Ross to seek state funding, state records show. The Moreland Commission’s unnamed nonprofit uses “a top-shelf outside lobbying firm.”
Relief Resources has taken in $2,901,000 in state funding since 2005, state records show.
Lawmakers have sponsored seven member-item grants totaling $1,275,000 since 2006, according to the state attorney general’s Open Government Web site.
Relief Resources’ latest tax filing shows it took in $1.8 million in the year ending June 30, 2012, and spent $1.7 million, including $963,695 on salaries. It gave out $317,415 in grants for mental-health treatment to five people and another $116,992 to a dozen patients, tax records show.
Moreland Commission investigators called the unnamed non-profit’s hot line as a test and reported the calls “went to voicemail.”
“When the calls were eventually returned, conversations were brief, involved only the bare minimum of personal and medical history, and only generic guidance was offered,” the commission reported.
When The Post reached the agency’s emergency extension Friday, an answering service said it would take a message.
The commission said it subpoenaed records that showed the majority of calls were very brief — “raising questions about how substantive the calls can actually be, and about the legitimacy of the justification for these large, legislatively directed discretionary grants.”
Benjamin Babad, the program director of Relief Resources, said he knew nothing about the Moreland Commission and could not comment because he hadn’t seen its report. He said his agency provided mental-health referrals to “thousands” of clients mostly in New York.
Shiya Ostreicher, a board member of Relief Resources, is a lobbyist for Agudath Israel of America, a powerful Orthodox Jewish organization.