New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said that many nonprofits are withholding donations from the very people they are supposed to be helping.
Within days of Superstorm Sandy making landfall in October 2012, a number of charitable organizations started collecting donations from kindhearted souls freely giving their monies to help with Sandy relief efforts or so they thought.
Schneiderman announced that a huge amount of those donated funds have yet to be filtered to sandy victims as they were so intended.
"This is about transparency. This is about accountability," Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said. "This is about us all understanding that the money goes where the donors intended and the relief is delivered effectively and efficiently.
Schneiderman's office found that 89 charities raised more than half a billion dollars. By April, only 57 percent of that had been given in sandy relief, leaving at least $238 million still in the hands of those nonprofits and not in the hands of sandy victims.
Art Lighthall lives in Breezy Point, Queens, where more than 350 homes were destroyed during sandy.
"People are trying to rebuild these homes," he said. "They need the assistance cause in many cases they did not get the support through FEMA and in many cases they had no insurance or their insurance proceeds were small or they are fighting with insurance companies."
The biggest fundraiser was the American Red Cross with about $300 million in Sandy relief. The Red Cross said that all donations specified for Sandy relief were done so.
Schneiderman said at least 17 organizations report they may use Sandy donations for non-Sandy purposes, including future disasters.
But state Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr. said that is a problem.
"We ask those who have retained the money collected to do the right thing: get the money out to the intended beneficiaries which are the victims of Hurricane Sandy,"
A reminder from the attorney general is to make sure that you do specify where you want your donation to go. His office said its investigation is far from over.