A couple that runs a small urban farm in Queens has recently come forward with accusations that they were blacklisted after turning down a massive bribe from a local politician. Marion Moses and Malisa Rivera said that Queens politician James Sanders offered to fund their farm with a $1.7 million grant in taxpayer money, but there was a catch. Sanders allegedly told the couple that they would only receive the payment if they gave Sanders a $250,000 kickback.
Sanders is currently under investigation under suspicion of corruption, not just for this case but for many other situations where he was expected of embezzling taxpayer money for personal accounts and expenses.
The farmers say that they were approached by Sanders in September of 2012, where he offered to include them in a scheme that was obviously illegal.
At a meeting with Sanders, the lawmaker reportedly ordered members of his staff out of the room and had a private conversation with the couple where he laid out his plans for the money.
“He was talking about possibilities of doing something on a larger scale,” Moses said of the meeting.
After a lengthy discussion about urban farming and how the money would be spent, Sanders eventually said, “Yeah, I’ll take that cash — two hundred fifty-thousand dollars. You know, a quarter.”
Moses asked the lawmaker what he had meant and, “He put his fingers up, two fingers on his right hand, then five fingers with his left hand, then he moved his fingers with that hand into a zero. He wanted a quarter of a million dollars.”
Moses was shocked by the offer and asked Sanders what would happen when the IRS looked at the charity’s accounts and noticed a discrepancy.
“He would not answer me. He didn’t say anything. I asked him two times. And he started talking to my wife instead,” Moses said.
Sanders then told Moses, “Brother, you don’t understand what I’m trying to do,” to which Moses replied, “I understand exactly what you’re trying to do!’ and I shoved his hand off my shoulder.”