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Charges Against New City's Michael Hirsch Stem from 2008 Golf Course Project

Community activist with contracting business denies charges, has entered not guilty plea.

Theft and records-falsifying charges filed against a New City contractor who is also an outspoken Clarkstown community activist stem from a 2008 project that created a new golf center in Brooklyn, according to the Manhattan District Attorney's Office.

Hirsch, 62, of New City, was arrested Tuesday after an investigation by New York City Department of Investigations and the city's Department of Parks and Recreation involving the Dyker Beach Junior Golf Course built for the city. The non-profit City Parks Foundation was the main contractor for the Department of Parks and Recreation project, and Hirsh's MZM Corporation was a subcontractor for City Parks Foundation.

City Parks Foundation described the junior golf course as an 11.8-acre development adjacent to Dyker Beach Golf Center. The project received $2 million in city and state public funding, with the rest of the cash for the project raised through private donations.

Following his arrest, Hirsch entered a not guilty plea in a New York City court and Hirsch denied any wrongdoing in connection with the project. He faces a hearing on Dec. 12 in New York State Supreme Court, Part F, at 100 Centre St. in Manhattan.

Both Hirsch and his company, MZM Corp. are accused of:

- Fourth-degree grand larceny

- First-degree offering a false instrument for filing

- Second-degree offering a false instrument for filing

- Petty larceny

The complaint against Hirsch filed in court said a city investigation reviewed 34 certified payrolls submited by Hirsch to the city's Department of Parks and Recreation from March 14 to Oct. 17, 2008. Those records list amounts workers were paid.

However, the complaint states that an investigation found that the actual amounts paid to workers were much less that the amounts stated on the certified payroll records given to the city. The investigation found that the City Parks Foundation had issued five separate checks to employees of MZM Corp. on May 21, 2010, totaling more than $92,000 for reimbursement of the underpayment of wages.

After the reimbursement checks were issued, investigators say a worker who received one of the checks was told by a MZM Corp. supervisor to turn over the check to MZM Corp. The city's review of MZM Corp. bank records found that one of the City Parks Foundation checks was deposited in the bank account of MZM Corporation, totaling more than $30,000.

In an interview with Patch, Hirsch denied wrongdoing, maintaining that he is pleading not guilty.

Tax-cut advocate 

For several years, Hirsch has been an outspoken leader of a community effort to have the Town of Clarkstown cut its spending and reduce taxes for its residents. He has been a regular at Clarkstown Town Board meetings, where he and other members of the Clarkstown Taxpayers have questioned Town Board members and town officials on policy, hiring and spending decisions.

Hirsch credits these efforts for getting Clarkstown to reduce its payroll and cut expenses. He has also been a vocal advocate of cutting costs and salaries for the town's police department, one of the largest in Rockland County.

Contracting business

Hirsch's contracting company is based in New City but works througout the metropolitan area, including in New York City and Westchester County.

Listed on the "testimonials" page of the web site for Hirsch's company is a message of support for MZM Corp. from David Rivel, executive director of the City Parks Foundation, including praise for the company's work on the junior golf center.

"I have used MZM for five different projects over the past 12 years, while at two different non-profit organizations. That fact, probably more than anything else, speaks volumes about the trust I have in their capability, reliability, and honesty as a company. The projects ranged from a $600,000 office renovation to a state of the art $2.5 million Junior Golf Center in Brooklyn. None of the projects were easy or straightforward, and some had extreme challenges. All were completed in a timely manner and were priced fairly.

"I have hired them before, and I would hire them again. They have a solid record of accomplishment."

— David Rivel
Executive Director, City Parks Foundation
Former President, Brooklyn Conservatory of Music

Laborers Local 754 September 27, 2012 at 07:33 PM
My earlier comment was right on the money. Someone at M2M is shaking down employees. I wonder what the immigration status of the employees was at the time?
Chris September 27, 2012 at 08:29 PM
Mr. Hirsch would show up at Legislative Meetings at offer to do work on the county animal shelter for a very low rate. Not surprised that no one ever took him up on his offer.
Guy Gervasi September 27, 2012 at 10:26 PM
As current president of the Clarkstown Taxpayer group, I wish Mike well in his defense against these charges. However, the residents of Clarkstown should rest assured that the goals that Mike Hirsch fought for and that we continue to fight for through the Clarkstown Taxpayers to reduce taxes, establish Term Limits for our elected officials and eliminate patronage appointments will continue unabated. Guy Gervasi President Clarkstown Taxpayers
Siobhan September 27, 2012 at 11:39 PM
It used to be you either cooperated with certain individuals or suffered work stoppages.  If that didn't work it was baseball bats. Things are more sophisticated today. The big boys tell contractors that one of the houses in your new project goes to John Doe at half price.  John Doe then takes out a mortgage that reflects the correct value of the home.  A year later the home is sold for a nice profit at the proper market price.  John Doe paid a couple of bucks in mortgage interest charges for a year. If you don't want to cooperate then your project gets stuck in red tape or you have payment problems and invoice errors. Think about it, a company of the size of Hirsch's is not going to file a false wage statement, have an employee get a check, shake down the employee to give the check to the company to endorse and send the paper trail back to the organization that issued the check.  Then the employee goes to the government and says gee whiz I was gee whizzed!  That's not the way it goes folks - that sort of stuff is done with cash - cash does not leave a paper trail.  Nobody uses a company checking account for this sort of stuff.  It's done with paper bags and they don't have to be brown.  Even the teenage drug gangs in NY city know you don't leave a paper trail like that. I spent months in NY City learning that. Mr. Hirsch will be offered a diminished charge if he will plead guilty and take a slap on the wrist.   Most take the deal - not worth the cost to fight!
Siobhan September 28, 2012 at 12:00 AM
Here is an example of a New City resident who knows how not to do something that is "fourth degree" or "petty" http://www.lohud.com/article/20120927/NEWS03/309270076/Hospital-s-ex-CEO-former-New-City-resident-accused-1-4M-kickback-scheme
Brenda M September 28, 2012 at 12:19 AM
The article mentions an amount of $30,000 implied to be a kick-back. This one mentions a figure of $75,000 for part time work of 25 hours per week helping Wayne Ballard tend to his constituents with phone services on a snowy day. http://newcity.patch.com/articles/constituent-services-job-filled-at-clarkstown-highway-department “If there’s a snowstorm that comes in on the weekend that person has to come in on the weekend,” explained Ballard. “It’s weather sensitive.”  “It’s a political appointment,” said Sparaco. Sparaco said his decision about the position was not immediate. “I thought hard and seriously about it,” he said. Sure he did, he really wants to be out in the snow kicking snowballs back at Ballard's constituents.
Tom Truth September 28, 2012 at 01:10 AM
OK, I'll bite. What does the Sparaco/Ballard debacle, as ugly as it is, have to do with Hirsch being arrested? Second, while to some it might seem like a bit of fate and irony that Hirsch has been charged with some things similar to the issues he has been complaining about for years, there is still many problems that exist in government here that need to be addressed. I don't necessarily agree with Hirsch and company on their solutions all the time; in fact they often point out problems but don't offer any realistic answers to those problems; but that does not make the problems any less real. We are in a hole in Rockland and we seem to be digging deeper. Our political parties all seem to be fronts for self-interested entities.
Jonathan Swift September 28, 2012 at 01:58 AM
Our political parties all seem to be fronts for self-interested entities. Yes indeed, Tom. Yes indeed.
I was just reading about the Us Postal service missing the second 6 Billion dollar pension funding...relax!! its not a big deal!!!!another city in California on the verge of bankruptcy...relax!!! no big deal...but hear in clowntownville we have a pay scale that is beyond normal comphrehension.a"part time townie making 75,000 a year and its his second job!!! the other of course giving him the benefits..oouch I cant sit down!!!!! we have a cheif of a small town Pd force making what? over 250,000!!! more than Kelly makes for managing close to 40,000 dedicated police officers in a very intense city..there is something very wrong with this!! clowntown keeps borrowing more and more....the 1% when they ran short in the school budget..the pay scales are disgusting..we have a clerk of the works who makes over 160,000 and just got a raise? didnt anyone question his supervisor role for one of his employees who was arrested???that person was under him!!! this town has a dis-connect with reality...and it is kiling the home values drive around people many many homes up for sale and lawns not cut..many many signs on commercial properties.just drive around the BIG Mall they will win their tax appeal because of all the vacancies..
"what is really funny is that all the employees think this is all sustainable!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!now that is scary.....keep letting all the landscaper employees who are off the books getting cash for their work keep draining our services...oh wait..we the taxpayers are supposed to fund that too...anyone ever see whos in the ER rooms most nights? english is the second language..I hear there is a landscaper in clarkstown that only takes checks made out to cash!!!!!!and guess what his other job is!!!!!!nice atttiude.....does he deduct taxs from his employees?cough cough"

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