The now-former Bronx County Clerk and Assemblymember Luis Diaz pleaded guilty and was sentenced Wednesday for defrauding the court in support of an alleged associate of the Genovese crime family, according to Attorney General Letitia James.
The 69-year-old Diaz intentionally wrote, certified and submitted false information to the court to help defendant Thomas Poli — the alleged associate — fulfill a plea regarding a 2019 criminal charge, according to James’ office.
The lie was related to work for Aguila, Inc., a homeless shelter provider that was paid millions by New York City before filing for bankruptcy last fall while facing a slew of investigations.
Diaz was arraigned and pled guilty on July 20 to one felony count of offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree before Bronx Supreme Court Judge Poust Lopez on Wednesday.
He was sentenced to a three-year conditional discharge under the condition he does not get rearrested during that time and must complete 100 hours of community service.
Moreover, Diaz has resigned from his clerk post — which was a lifetime appointment — and now faces a lifetime ban on holding public office or working for nonprofit organizations registered in the state.
While he officially resigned last week as part of his plea agreement, Diaz, who was appointed in 2009, has been suspended without pay since October 2020, Office of the Attorney General spokesperson Alexis Richards told the Bronx Times.
Poli requested Diaz write and submit a letter to the court falsely claiming that he volunteered for Aguila, the homeless shelter provider, according to James’ office. Poli was not a volunteer but rather was paid by the provider for vending, storage and furniture contracts. The 2019 criminal matter that the fake community service was in regard to is sealed, Richards told the Bronx Times.
According to the Attorney General’s office, Diaz worked as a paid consultant for Aguila since 2014 while serving as clerk. Diaz held a close working relationship with both Polia and Aguila’s former Chief of Staff Jose Sierra.
James’ office called Aguila “often-criticized and now defunct.”
Poli himself was charged in April — separate from the 2019 incident — with racketeering conspiracy for his role in illegal gambling and related extortions connected to the Genovese crime family, according to James’ office.
Diaz was no stranger to the Bronx beyond his clerkship, representing the 86th Assembly District in the Boogie Down from 2003 until 2008, at which point he stepped down to work for then-Gov. David Paterson, according to News12 and Norwood News reports.
A New York Times report about Diaz’s 2002 Democratic primary race described him as a “soft-spoken executive director of a nonprofit organization that provides programs for both young and elderly residents,” and a “longtime loyal foot soldier” in the Bronx Democratic Party who served as a Democratic district leader and an aide to former Bronx Assemblymember Peter Rivera. West Bronx Assemblymember Yudelka Tapia was one of his opponents in that primary race.
Improving economic development in the district was a main tenant of Diaz’s 2002 campaign, according to the New York Times report.
James said in a statement that the end to Diaz’s stint as a public servant should be a warning for others.
“When we take our oath of office as public servants, we make a promise to our constituents to lead with integrity and uphold the laws of the great state of New York,” James said in a statement. “Mr. Diaz violated that pledge, along with the sanctity of the same county court system he represents. Let this be a warning: we have zero tolerance for public servants who abuse public trust, and we will root out corruption in any and every form in New York.”
The Kings County District Attorney’s Office assisted James’ office in the investigation into Diaz.
The Bronx Times reached out to the Office of Court Administration for comment and is awaiting a response.
This article was updated at 7:48 p.m. on July 20.