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Summer camp refund battle

Seven On Your Side
September 14, 2012 3:12:39 PM PDT
A woman is battling a summer camp for her money back after they did not take her children on daily field trips as promised.

"Why haven't you paid the judgment?" 7 On Your Side's Nina Pineda asked Earnestine Russell.

The director of the Bronx summer camp waived off 7 On Your Side's questions about the court ordered refund owed to this family.

"I'm infuriated. You know this is absolutely ridiculous. This is a woman who is an absolute pillar in the community," Natasha Bascoe said.

Earnestine Russell's used to good publicity.

As founder of the non-profit Baychester Youth Council, she was the subject of a documentary praising her as a hometown hero for helping at risk kids.

"Obviously I was upset, it's a large sum of money," Bascoe said.

Natasha Bascoe enrolled her four kids in Russell's Burch Dream Summer Day Camp.

She paid $3,600, $900 per child, which was worth it to her since the camp scheduled daily field trips.

"You never went to the museum?" Pineda asked.

"No," Dominic Bascoe said.

"Never went to the aquarium?" Pineda asked.

"No," Dominic Bascoe said.

"Adventureland," Pineda asked.

"No," Dominic Bascoe replied.

Dominic Bascoe says he and his 3 siblings went nowhere.

"I said I want a refund and my children would not be coming back to camp. She said she would process the refund within two weeks, Natasha Bascoe said.

That was in an email sent a year ago by Russell's daughter.

But after weeks, then months passed with no refund, Natasha took the charity and the camp to court.

"We spoke to an arbitrator, we came to an agreement which she would pay me $3,000 within 90 days," Natasha Bascoe said.

The clock ran out in May, it was time to get some answers.

"We're 7 On Your Side, I need to talk to you about the refund for Natasha, the judgment Natasha won in court," Pineda said.

"Not right now ma'am we got the kids here not right now, call me early in the morning," Russell said.

"We tried to call, you hung up," Pineda said.

Earnestine Russell called minutes later saying her charity didn't have the money to pay Natasha.

But in the most current tax forms filed with New York State, the charity behind the summer camp, Baychester Youth Council, received more than a half a million in government grants.

That same year, Ms. Russell earned a six figure salary, $111,000, and was even issued a personal loan from the charity of nearly $160,000.

But at the end of the year, the charity was still in the red to the tune of $143,000.

"Do you understand she needs the money?" Pineda asked.

"Call me back later," Russell said.

Natasha still waiting - she says - haunted by the last words Ms. Russell spoke to her. "I will be paid in her time. Those were her exact words," Natasha Bascoe said, "I mean it's like a slap in the face, this is money that I worked hard for to send my children to enjoy their summer and this, I mean you're basically just telling me, you know, I'll get it when you feel like giving it to me."

Earnestine Russell told 7 On Your Side she was waiting on funding from the state to pay Natasha, but Eyewitness News found out from the Department of Education, they abruptly terminated their funding last May, but wouldn't discuss why.

Despite 7 On Your Side's calls and emails, Ms. Russell wouldn't comment about the finances of her charity saying only "it's a private matter."

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