November 16, 2010; Source: New York Daily News | At a time when New York State is trying to plug a $9 billion hole in its budget, some people are asking how Senate President Malcolm Smith can justify making $500,000 available to an anti-violence nonprofit run by two former drug dealers with no experience.

The New York Daily News also says critics are upset that Smith steered the money to the Rockaway Development and Revitalization Corp., which is serving as a fiscal conduit. They say he did that to overcome worries raised by the state’s justice division about whether King of Kings Foundation could responsibly manage such a large grant. “This is not a time to be giving out money to groups that may be well-intentioned but do not have a track record,” charged state Sen. Martin Golden.

According to the Daily News, the foundation was incorporated in 2006 without any assets, and today operates out of the apartment of one of the founders. The paper reports that Lance and Todd Feurtado, who started King of Kings Foundation, were “busted” in 1995 on federal drug charges. Todd was let out in 2002, and Lance in 2004. Under a deal, still requiring approval of the state controller, the Rockaway Development and Revitalization Corp. will manage the grant for the foundation, which aims to keep kids from gang violence.

Although John Caher, a spokesman for the state Division of Criminal Justice Services said the foundation “didn’t have any experience and they didn’t have a track record,” he is “comfortable” that the pending arrangement with the Rockaway agency will provide “fiscal management and administrative oversight.”—Bruce Trachtenberg