With the audit and investigative report he released on Wednesday, City Comptroller Scott Stringer has painted a vivid picture of a disingenuous and reckless Queens Library under ousted President and CEO Thomas Galante.
Galante and other Library executives spent more than $300,000 on prohibited items such as extravagant meals, alcohol, Apple TVs, smokeless ashtrays, airline upgrades, and tickets to a Maroon 5 concert and Disneyland, all while claiming that the Library was running a deficit, according to the audit and report.
The results of the investigation have been referred to the Internal Revenue Service and law enforcement authorities.
During Galante’s tenure, the Library charged nearly all of its operating expenses to its internal “City Fund” account, which was subject to oversight by the comptroller’s office. As a result, Stringer said, from Fiscal Year 2008 to FY 2013 the Library appeared to run deficits that ranged from $5.7 million to $6.9 million, enabling Galante to go before the City Council and plead for more funds.
In reality, the Library had anywhere from $17 to $27 million in unrestricted funds in its fines and fees, state and board designated funds over the same period. Stringer said that Library executives could have drawn upon these so-called hidden funds. Instead, they used the money in part to pay for a wide range of inappropriate expenses.
At the same time they were improperly spending public funds, the Library was eliminating services to the reading public, cutting branch operating hours by an average of four hours per week. During that same time period, Library executives’ salaries increased, with compensation growing by nearly 7 percent—even as they cut services staff and their salaries by 2.8 percent.
Additionally, the audit and investigative report found that from July 2007 to December 2013, Galante made $670,000 in credit card charges that were never approved by the Library’s Board or Chief Financial Officer. And from FY 2012-2014, Galante and then-Chief Operating Officer Bridget Quinn-Carey incurred more than $310,000 in expenses that violated the Library’s Credit Card, Travel, and/or Purchasing Policy (roughly $260,000 of which were incurred by Galante.)