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Charges Against Clarkstown Activist Stem from 2008 Golf Course Project

New City contractor Michael Hirsch 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 money 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

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