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Ex-Councilman McFadden Pleads Guilty to a New Charge

Patti Singer

Former Rochester City Council member Adam McFadden. File photo

Former City Council member Adam McFadden, already facing sentencing for a guilty plea related to dealings with Rochester Housing Charities, pleaded guilty to a new charge related to an organization that helps schoolchildren.

McFadden on Oct. 9 pleaded guilty in federal court to wire fraud related to his work with Quad A for Kids, a program of Rochester Area Community Foundation Initiatives. Funding comes from individual donations as well as local, state and federal grants. Some funds established many years ago at the Rochester Area Community Foundation provide ongoing support.

McFadden was executive director of Quad A for Kids between 2004 and 2014. From 2014 to September 2016, McFadden was an independent contractor for the organization, and again was executive director from September 2016 until 2019, according to documents from the U.S. Attorney.

Quad A for Kids, a separate entity under the Rochester Area Community Foundation (RACF), provides after-school programs at four city elementary schools this academic year. Quad A stands for academics, athletics, arts and achievement.

The U.S. Attorney’s office said that between February 2012 and December 2018, McFadden submitted fraudulent invoices and receipts to the RACF for reimbursements in the approximate amount of $131,163. The funds were used, in part, for McFadden’s benefit, including paying off personal debts.

According to prosecutors, McFadden created fraudulent invoices purportedly from:

  • an individual for various computer and IT related services that were never provided;
  • an entity that provided various sports, fitness and related products and services;
  • entities that provided grant writing and related services; and
  • Amazon, Walmart and Staples.

After the submission of the fraudulent invoices, the RACF reimbursed the defendant personally or paid the various entities. The entities then paid debts owed by McFadden.

Prosecutors also said that in August 2017 and February 2018, McFadden created fraudulent $4,000 invoices from the North East Area Development Association (NEAD), purportedly to provide training services to Quad A for Kids. Although the training services were never performed, McFadden caused Quad A for Kids to pay NEAD $8,000. NEAD then fraudulently paid the defendant $7,000 of the $8,000 that NEAD had fraudulently received.

U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy Jr. said in a news release, “ … (McFadden) diverted funds away from those in need in our community and into his own pocket. That he would do so while serving as a Rochester City Councilman is particularly egregious, as such behavior is more consistent with that of a public parasite than it is of a public servant.”

The Rochester Area Community Foundation partners with donors and philanthropists to provide grants to organizations that work to improve the quality of life in the eight-county region.

President and chief executive officer Jennifer Leonard sent a letter to donors after McFadden’s plea.

“This is a sad day for the Quad A organization and ours because trust is at the heart of the work we do, and the charges describe how McFadden violated that trust,” she wrote. … It was a real possibility for a while that hundreds of children could have lost the opportunity to expand on their learning after school because of the self-serving actions of one individual. However, thanks to the remarkable efforts of many, essential state funding was renewed, hiring of staff for the 2019-20 school year is complete, and the after-school programs are set to open in just a few weeks. I also want you to know that this investigation gave us the opportunity to review and amend RACFI policies and procedures to include additional safeguards.”

Leonard said that last year, Quad A for Kids served 500 children in five city schools. “Your support helped make that success,” she wrote to RACF donors.

Leonard wrote that upon discovering evidence of “financial impropriety,” Rochester Area Community Foundation Initiatives fired McFadden and started an independent audit in early March. She said auditors reviewed several thousand pages of documents from McFadden’s tenure and gave to federal authorities.

“I did something wrong, and I’m owning up to the fact I did something wrong,” McFadden told the Democrat and Chronicle after the plea. “I live in a community that has faced challenges and tough times, and I’m hoping that community will forgive me and that folks that I worked with will forgive me, and the people I let down will forgive me.”

McFadden is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 12. The charge carries a maximum 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The plea deal requires restitution of $131,163 to Quad A for Kids. McFadden is required to disclose all assets over which he has direct or indirect control.

In April, McFadden pleaded guilty to wire fraud and filing a false tax return related to Rochester Housing Charities, an entity formed to advance the purposes of the Rochester Housing Authority. Those charges carry a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He will be sentenced on those charges on Feb. 12.

By law, McFadden had to give up his council seat after his guilty plea in April.