The famed Friar's Club, beloved by celebrity comedians and John Catsimatidis, was raided by investigators with the U.S. Postal Service earlier this week, after officials received word of an alleged embezzlement scheme.
Federal inspectors with the US Postal Inspection Service showed up at the Midtown townhouse on Monday to retrieve “computers and boxes of files," according to Page Six. The raid was reportedly done in tandem with Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara, and though the club's executive director, Michael Gyure, wrote in a letter to members that, "At this point, we don’t know what the allegations are," it appears members believe a higher-up at the club has been embezzling funds that were meant to go toward its charitable foundation.
Member Catsimatidis, who famously ran for mayor in 2013, told reporters there was "bad stuff" going on at the club, and that he and other members reported the potential theft to the U.S. Attorney's office. "It's very sad," he told the Associated Press. "There was a lot of money disappearing." (We reached out to Catsimatidis for further comment and will update if we hear back).
The Friar's Club has been the subject of controversy before. Last year, Showbiz411 reported that the club's charity, the nonprofit Friars National Association Foundation Inc., spent $1.6 million on a charity concert in Washington D.C., and paid $374,058 to an entertainment group founded by one of the charity event's producers. Those expenditures totaled an unprecedented amount that rivaled the amount of money the club usually spends on roasts, galas, and charitable grants.
Comedy writer and member Carol Scibelli told Page Six she was suspended from committees for “asking too many questions about finances” in a meeting last year. “As members, we didn’t have any transparency with the finances of the club,” she said. “We got a lot of answers that didn’t make any sense.”