DA Johnson has yet to satisfactorily address the status of his investigation into the allegations against d’Almeida.
Young boys continue to sign up for the program.
[Black Star News Editorial]
First In A Series of commentaries and reports
Can money combined with friends in the right places buy anything? Even protection for an alleged sexual abuser of minors?
In 1996 The City Sun, a Brooklyn-based African American-oriented weekly newspaper reported on allegations made by former academic tutors at the elite Bronx-based Gauchos youth basketball program that the founder and director, Lou d’Almeida, had performed sexual acts on some young male players.
The City Sun subsequently reported in its April 17-April 23, 1996 edition that the Bronx County’s District Attorney Robert T. Johnson was investigating allegations of d’Almeida’s sexual acts with minors involved with the Gauchos.
After The City Sun’s expose, other New York newspapers, including The Daily News and The New York Post carried follow-up stories based on The City Sun’s report. The New York Post quoted the details extensively from The City Sun’s article, including the allegations by some of the former tutors that they had, on one occasion, witnessed d’Almeida performing a sex act on a young boy inside his car which was parked near the Gauchos’ Bronx gym at 478 Gerard Avenue.
D’Almeida, a multi-millionaire, told The New York Post that he would sue the former tutors and The City Sun; he never filed the lawsuits. At the time, DA Johnson’s spokesperson Steve Reed also told The City Sun that his office was having difficulty getting witnesses willing to testify against d’Almeida.
Nevertheless, as a result of The City Sun’s report and the other media coverage d’Almeida was not seen for sometime involved with the Gauchos.
But d’Almeida has clearly been back for a while. D’Almeida’s signature is allover the Gauchos. D’Almeida is listed as “founder” on the organization’s website and his picture appears on various sections of the website. The website also lists prominent names, such as Charles Chiara, as president, and Matthew Bronfman, as chairman.
D’Almeida is also involved in the Gauchos’ fundraising activities.
Just last week, on September 14, Team Work, a 501-C3 not-for-profit organization and the Gaucho’s parent organization, held it’s Seventh Annual Awards and Fund raising Gala at the Bronx gymnasium. The website reported that this year’s “Man of the Year” award went to Syracuse University basketball legend, Dwayne “Pearl” Washington. The tickets for the Gala ranged from $300 for single entry to $10,000 for two-table packages. Teamwork Foundation’s annual fundraising target is $150,000, according to a media account.
Last year’s Gala’s setting was a bit more elegant; it was hosted at the New Yankee Stadium, on September, 14, 2010. A reported 220 people attended.
The names listed as “supporters” and “sponsors” on the Gala’s Program last year, reads like a Who’s Who, in New York’s world of finance, business, media, philanthropy, and other corporate activities: Adam Bronfman; Zoe Baird; Samuel Gaccione, and; Larry Hirschfield, and others. The honorees last year were Ann Bronfman and Judith Chiara–mother of Charles Chiara, Team Work’s president; all are from the family that founded Seagram Co.
D’Almeida presented the award to Ann Brofman, according to the program. It’s unclear if all of these prominent individuals are unaware of the pedophilia allegations against d’Almeida. It’s also unclear how many of the program’s current young participants, and their parents, are aware of the allegations against d’Almeida.
Last year’s program also included a congratulatory form letter from Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Yet, in New York’s amateur basketball world, and in some of New York’s establishment media, the allegations against d’Almeida’s are known.
Another coach of a rival elite basketball program, Earnie Lorch, of the famed Riverside Church youth basketball program in New York, was indicted by the authorities in Massachussetts late last year.
The authorities there charged him with sexually abusing a then underaged boy during a basketball trip from New York to Mass., between 1977 and 1978. Lorch, also a multi-millionaire, was a rival of d’Almeida. He had also been investigated on sex abuse charges by the Manhattan D.A.’s office since 2002 according to media accounts.
D’Almeida, on the other hand, is still actively involved with the Gauchos program, as the information on the website clearly indicates.
Many young players see the Gauchos as a possible passport to the big leagues.
Some players who became legends either in college or in the National Basketball Association (NBA) were once involved with the Gauchos program, including: Mark Jackson; Stephon Marbury; Felipe Lopez; Ed Pickney and; Dwayne “Peal” Washington, to name a few.
The Gauchos operation has been in existence since 1967. Most of the young players and athletes who go through the Gaucho’s doors are Black and Latino youths.
DA Johnson has yet to satisfactorily address the status –whether it continues– of his investigation into the allegations against d’Almeida.
Meanwhile, young boys and even girls, desperate for after-school activities, continue to sign up for the program.
Concerned parents may want to ask Bronx DA Johnson’s office at (718) 590-2000 about d’Almeida’s continued involvement with the Gauchos.
“Speaking Truth To Empower.”