Facts in Fraud Charge Against New GMHC Chief Remain Unclear
BY DUNCAN OSBORNE | A lawsuit that supposedly accused the incoming head of Gay Men’s Health Crisis of fraud in the 2012 board election at Front Runners New York does not name him in any publicly available document and was brought against Anthony Ng, the LGBT running club’s treasurer at the time, and John Doe defendants.
DNAinfo.com published a story on May 6 that charged that Kelsey Louie, GMHC’s new head, had tried “to rig a board election” at Front Runners and then lied about it. The story relied on “sources” and reported that DNA had documents filed in the lawsuit other than the two that are publicly available on the state courts website.
The story asserted that Louie used his home computer to register 46 people as Front Runners members during the two weeks prior to October 31. Members registered after that date were barred from voting in the 2012 board election. The 46 registrations gave the Lower East Side address of an AIDS services group for the registrants’ contact information.
Short-lived lawsuit produced no public evidence that AIDS client confidentiality breached
Louie has not publicly denied that he registered new club members in the run-up to the election. It is unclear if the registrations violated the club’s rules at that time. Reportedly, Front Runners has since changed its rules to prevent such actions. It is also unknown if the new 2012 members were registered without their permission, as the complaint alleges.
David Lin, then a board candidate and now the Front Runners’ board president, sued, charging that the members were fraudulently registered. Neither the complaint, which was filed on December 3 of that year, nor the December 19 voluntary withdrawal of the lawsuit name Louie. The defendants were only Ng and the John Does. The complaint and withdrawal are the only records on the state courts website.
On December 4, Lin issued a subpoena to Verizon that sought “Documents sufficient to identify the account holder of the following Internet Protocol address at the following times.” Lin signed the subpoena as an attorney, and it was not signed by any judge.
The subpoena gave the IP address and a 50-minute time span on October 17 and a 28-minute time span on October 30. On December 5, Verizon wrote to Louie, the account owner of that IP address, to tell him that it had received the subpoena and would return the records to Lin by December 14 unless Louie secured a motion to quash the subpoena or a protective order.
The subpoena and related documents were given to Gay City News by someone who is knowledgeable about the controversy, but was not a party to it, and asked to not be named.
Gay City News has not seen any documents that may have been returned to Lin in response to the subpoena.
It was five days after Verizon’s notice to Louie that Lin voluntarily withdrew his suit.
In various places in the DNAinfo.com story, the reporter, Mathew Katz, claims that “court documents” or the lawsuit accuse Louie of committing the fraud because he wanted to maintain a relationship between the club and Harlem United that in the past had raised thousands of dollars for the AIDS organization. That assertion is not supported by any public document or by the subpoena.
Louie is currently the chief operating officer at Harlem United and has worked there since 2006. He was a longtime Front Runners member, but left the club in 2012 following the controversy. He begins at GMHC on June 16.
Katz has written a series of unflattering stories about GMHC that inevitably rely on “sources” and readers are never told how those sources know what they claim to know or why they are commenting. These are standard journalistic conventions.
In an email, Lin refused to comment. Megan Coryat, the club’s president in 2012, did not respond to a call seeking comment. Ng did not respond to an email seeking comment that was sent via Facebook. As the defendant in the lawsuit, Ng would have been entitled to see the subpoena and any records that were returned in response.
Sharon Duke, the executive director at ASCNYC, the group at the address for the new registrations, said she did not believe that the confidentiality of client records at the AIDS agency had been breached, though she was concerned about the use of her agency’s address in the registrations.
“My concern was that those new members listed my organization’s address,” said Duke, who is a Front Runners member. “I didn’t want it to be construed that those names were my clients.”
In early 2012, ASCNYC paid for memberships in Front Runners for clients who wanted to participate in a June 2012 fun run.
“I’d like to say let’s give Kelsey a chance,” Duke said. “Let’s not eat our own.”