The Bronx Community Pride Center, an oasis for LGBT residents in the borough for 16 years, is closing its doors permanently, with the center’s board of directors citing “economic difficulties, past debt and inability to raise funds]” as the culprits.
“The organization has debts which exceed revenues at this time, and without significant cash infusions from major donors they are unable to continue operations financially,” reads a statement sent out Wednesday.
The news comes just two weeks after the Pride Center’s former director, Lisa Winters, was arrested for pocketing hundreds of thousands of dollars from the organization’s budget.
Winters, 47, was fired in January 2010, but it wasn’t until this month that the Bronx District Attorney’s Office issued a criminal complaint, charging her with larceny and falsifying business records.
Allegedly, Winters used Pride Center checks and debit cards to withdraw $338,000, including $15,000 to pay her dog walker, more than $11,000 for clothing, $12,000 for restaurant tabs and nearly $10,000 for items for her pets. Then there was the $25,000 she helped herself to for an African safari her and her wife. (They were among the first couples to wed when New York ratified same-sex marriage.)
The embezzlement scheme put BCPC so far in the red, there was no choice but to shut downe. “As BCPC closes, I ask that all Bronx LGBTQ organizations come together and fill the void that would be left behind,”BCPC’s chairman Antonio Centeno told the New York Post