MINEOLA - A nonprofit is accused of hiring hundreds of Long Island teens for summer work and never paying them.
Acting District Attorney Madeline Singas says 43-year-old Whelton Herron, of Brightwaters, created a false charity called the Herron Foundation, which promised on its website to help students in impoverished areas. Herron then hired 32-year-old Amadii Owens, of Wyandanch, and the two recruited hundreds of students at Freeport and Brentwood high schools. The pair promised the students $9 an hour to work at concession stands at Citi Field and Jones Beach Theatre.
"These defendants stole from at-risk teenagers who did hard work for many hours, for little or no pay," says Singas. "They victimized some of the very children they had committed to helping."
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Singas says in exchange for the student labor, the Herron Foundation got a $100,000 contribution from Aramark, the corporation that runs the concession stands. Prosecutors say it was legal for Aramark to accept what it thought were volunteers, and that Herron even gave students a script to lie and say they were volunteering.
Singas say that the corporation would give back money, based on how much money it made over an evening or weekend at the concession stands.
Prosecutors say that Herron used the $100,000 to buy a Mercedes and go on numerous trips. They estimate that the students are owed $25,000 in compensation.
Both men pleaded not guilty to the charges. Their attorneys say that both men have not been arrested before and expect them both to be exonerated.
Aramark issued a statement saying that in 2014, it stopped working with the Herron Foundation, and has cooperated fully with the investigation.