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National Puerto Rican Day Parade Reorganizes After Misuse Of Funds

Parade onlookers cheer marchers in last year's National Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York.
Craig Ruttle
Parade onlookers cheer marchers in last year's National Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York.

The National Puerto Rican Day Parade will be marching down New York City's Fifth Avenue under new leadership this year.

On Thursday, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced that three members of the parade's board of directors, including President Madelyn Lugo and her husband, General Coordinator Luis Rivera, have stepped down. Ten new directors will join the three remaining directors on the all-volunteer board. (Nine of the new directors are listed here.)

The changes come after an investigation by the state attorney general's office found that the event's longtime marketer and fundraiser, the G.A.L.O.S. Corp., misappropriated almost $1 million from money raised for the annual event.

As part of a settlement, the G.A.L.O.S. Corp., which is now banned from doing business for the parade, must forgive the approximately $1 million in debt owed by the event's organizers and pay them an additional $100,000.

In a tweet, Schneiderman called the parade a New York City institution. "Our agreement begins 'un nuevo [día]' for the parade, now a source of pride instead of a slush fund," he wrote.

Officials say no evidence of improper conduct by the parade's board of directors was found. But they do fault the leaders for a lack of financial oversight that led to the misappropriated funds. The reconfigured board of directors is now charged with instituting new internal controls.

The state attorney general's investigation began in response to a controversy from last year's parade. As my Code Switch teammate Kat Chow reported, parade organizers approved a marketing effort by MillerCoors that placed a design resembling the Puerto Rican flag on beer cans commemorating the 2013 event.

The parade is one of the country's largest ethnic celebrations, drawing 80,000 parade marchers and 2 million onlookers each year to Manhattan. This year's event is scheduled for June 8.

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Hansi Lo Wang (he/him) is a national correspondent for NPR reporting on the people, power and money behind the U.S. census.
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