Former Rochester City Councilman Adam McFadden Sentenced for Fraud
Adam McFadden, the former Rochester city councilman whose precipitous fall from grace will now land him in jail, presented a conundrum in federal court on Friday.
On the one hand, his accomplishments over the years—his work in troubled neighborhoods, his constant encouragement, and his help to disadvantaged youth—are the very accomplishments that have earned him the position of vice-president of the city council. .
But then there was the other half of the equation, and the theft and fraud committed by McFadden, stealing from the very programs he had helped build and the young people he had long helped.
“Most of the sentencing is, in fact, sad,” U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Wolford said Friday when sentencing McFadden for fraud. “This one is particularly unfortunate, Mr. McFadden.”
McFadden previously ran an organization, Quad A for Kids, which provided after-school services to children in poor neighborhoods. McFadden admitted to creating fake invoices for the organization, stealing more than $130,000 that otherwise could have been used for youth services.
Prosecutors have recommended a sentence of 12 to 18 months for McFadden, a recommendation prompted by his cooperation and recent testimony against George Moses, the former chairman of the board of directors of the Rochester Housing Authority who committed his own theft of local non-profit organizations.
Joseph Damelio, McFadden’s attorney, on Friday requested probation for McFadden, who pleaded guilty to his crimes. But Wolford said his crimes surely deserved a prison sentence and deserved the longer sentence of 18 months recommended by prosecutors.
“In my mind, a prison sentence is absolutely appropriate and should be imposed,” Wolford said. “The reality is that actions have consequences.”
Without his cooperation, McFadden faced a sentence of 27 to 33 months under recommended federal sentencing guidelines.
Wolford allowed McFadden to remain free until he was scheduled to surrender to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
In court and in post-sentence comments, McFadden apologized for his crimes.
“It’s not the end of me, it’s the start of a new me,” McFadden, 50, said after court. “I want to tell everyone that it’s very important that we follow the law, it’s very important that we follow the law. Today I’m paying the price for not doing that.
“I’m okay with that. I’ve accepted my responsibility…I’m not running away from that.”
McFadden admitted to three separate crimes – stealing the Quad A for Kids funds; a separate fraud in which he illegally received a contract for Rochester Housing Charities, a branch of the Rochester Housing Authority; and three years of falsified tax returns.
In total, his fraud totaled more than $260,000.
In court, McFadden said he was taking advice. He said he now believes the trauma he endured, both from his own days in poverty and from his constant work trying to help a community fight poverty and crime, has distorted his moral compass.
“Those things kept me in a world where the rules didn’t apply,” McFadden said.
McFadden did not mention another reason he previously mentioned for his crimes; he previously testified that he was in dire need of cash when he flew Quad A between 2012 and 2018.
Quad A was a program overseen by the Rochester Area Community Foundation, which fired McFadden in 2019 after finding evidence of impropriety in his work. The nonprofit then “initiated a full-scale forensic audit that included a review of several thousand pages of documents and spanned several months,” the Community Foundation said in a statement released Friday.
The findings of the audit have been handed over to federal investigators.
“McFadden’s plea deal requires him to repay what he stole from Quad A,” the Community Foundation statement read. “It is unclear how soon these funds would be returned.”
Quad A provided programs to 500 local children at five schools in the city. McFadden led the organization for nearly 15 years.
McFadden’s cooperation helped convict Moses, who was found guilty at trial on 28 counts and is now awaiting sentencing. Moses robbed a neighborhood group he led and entities related to the Rochester Housing Authority.
On Friday, Damelio and Wolford highlighted the work McFadden has done over the years.
“You have done a lot of good for this community, including the children of this community,” Wolford said.
But, she added, he also robbed the most needy children of the $130,000 stolen from Quad A.
“It’s my community that I love, and I’m not going anywhere,” McFadden said after his sentencing.
Wolford also argued that McFadden could continue to find ways to serve the Rochester community, once he’s had his day.
“There’s no reason it should be a reflection of your entire career,” she told McFadden.