The practice of stashing funds in the city budget through allotments to phantom organizations goes back at least a decade, The Post has learned.
An investigation of budget documents shows phantom groups first appearing in fiscal year 1998, when $150,000 was allocated to "Elder Statesmen" - a name identified by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn as phony.
HAUNTED BY PHANTOMS
In interviews with a dozen current and former council and mayoral staffers, The Post was told that the practice - which it revealed has hidden as much as $17 million since 2001 and which has brought on federal and city investigations - began in the Giuliani administration, when Peter Vallone Sr. was council speaker.
In Vallone's last budget, for fiscal year 2002, there were five phony groups. In [Gifford] Miller's, there were 16.
As coffers swelled, the amount of money funneled to fake groups also grew, with annual sums reaching the millions.