The social welfare group of the suspected Brooklyn subway bomber pays executives big money
The Bronx nonprofit, which provided group therapy for accused subway shooter Frank James, is paying big bucks to its top executives while running a massive deficit – leading critics to call for more oversight.
James, who terrorized New Yorkers by allegedly opening fire on a rush-hour N train earlier this month, attended group therapy at Argus Community Inc in the months leading up to the April 12 shooting that injured 29 people. at 760 East 160th Street.
The group has $84.3 million in contracts with the state and earned $35.5 million in fiscal 2020 from all sources — but paid $24.2 million in salaries, and according to its audited financial statements posted an operating deficit of $1.5 million.
According to its most recent tax return, Argus paid more than $450,000 to longtime CEO Richard Weiss and more than $200,000 to five other executives in 2019.
Another four Argus honchos raked in more than $125,000, the documents show.
Councilor Robert Holden (D-Queens), who introduced legislation that would require the city to report on the performance of the city’s homeless shelters, said he was not surprised by the organization’s fat salaries.
“For many of the so-called non-profit organizations, this is a matter of course. You would think that if the nonprofit was in the red, the CEO or leadership would take a pay cut,” he said.
Attorney Maria Danzilo, a Democrat running for state senate in Upper Manhattan, was shocked by the group’s spending.
“What are they doing for all that money… Our social service providers have been under-supervised… They have to oversee these facilities. They have high payrolls and there are no metrics to make sure they’re doing their jobs,” she said.
James, who said he has a diagnosed mental illness, attended group therapy sessions at Argus’, a former attendee told The Post. It’s not clear why he quit, and Argus hasn’t returned any messages.
“The Frank James thing is obviously not an exact science of mental health … but there should be a way to measure its performance,” Holden said.
The accused gunman blasted the city’s mental health services in hundreds of videos he posted to social media, once declaring, “Mr. Mayor, I am a victim of your mental health program.”
Argus provides drug, HIV and behavioral therapy and clean needles to the homeless and others in difficulty. It offers dozens of programs, including state-mandated screening of people arrested for drunk driving, and operates two homeless shelters in Harlem.
The group’s headquarters has also received a spate of 911 calls over the past 16 months: 52 calls for the Bronx location in 2021 and 25 such calls so far this year, the NYPD said.
Last year, 29 of those 911 calls were requests for an ambulance, nine were felonies, including theft, and one was a disorderly group. In 2022, 14 of the calls were for ambulances and six for crimes including robbery and theft, as well as three burglaries at a construction site and a parked vehicle.
While Argus pays his bosses well, the generosity doesn’t seem to extend to his workers.
“It’s the worst organization to work for. They really just pay the executives all the money and the crumbs for everyone else,” complained a former employee on jobs site Indeed.
“This company is very cheap. Salaries are terrible,” a current employee chimed in to job reviewer Glassdoor.
Customers also complained about the quality of online service, with a Google Maps review saying staff were “unprofessional and very disrespectful”.
“This place should be closed. All they care about is $$$$$$$$,” wrote another.
When Argus wanted to open a new methadone clinic in Harlem in 2018, locals complained, according to Gothamist.
“It’s a cross between The Walking Dead, The Wire and Mardi Gras,” a Harlemite told the outlet about nearby drug clinics. “We’ve told the police we don’t care if they get arrested, we don’t expect them to go to jail… Which we really just want them to go away.”
The organization reported $12.7 million in state and local grants and an additional $13.1 million from Medicaid, food stamps and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for fiscal year 2020, the latest available.
|Surname||title||pay Argus||others pay||In total|
|Cynthia de la Rosa||SVP||$187,088||$29,693||$216,781|
It is also supported by the New York Times Company Foundation, the JP Morgan Chase Foundation and several private foundations of wealthy families, according to its annual report.
One of Argus’ partners, BOOM!Health, provided needles for junkies to shoot at the Bronx’s Patterson Playground, which The Post recently revealed has the loosest needles of any park in the borough.
Charity Navigator, a regulator of charities, said the company spends 13.4 percent of its expenses on administration and 86.6 percent on services.
“Given the size of the organization, I don’t see anything of concern in terms of executive compensation for this organization,” said Kevin Doyle of Charity Navigator, who added that the watchdog thinks Argus’ spending is “reasonable.”