PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Dennis McKenna, a 9/11 organizer who could face a state investigation into his charities, appeared in front of Port St. Lucie City Council denying claims he misused donations.
"I never robbed a dime from anybody," McKenna said as he faced about a crowd of about 50 in council chambers. He said most of his charitable efforts are not done with money given to his charities.
McKenna broke his silence Monday night to clear his name after a Scripps Treasure Coast newspaper investigation published Sunday reports he might face fines or criminal charges from the state if he does not provide information about his charities and their finances by the end of the month. The investigation also delved into questions of McKenna's claims he was a 9/11 first responder.
McKenna, who swiftly exited chambers after making his comments, told council accusations he did not participate in clean up efforts at the World Trade Center after Sept. 11 stem from a vendetta by three individuals involved in local 9/11 memorial efforts. McKenna handed City Council an apparent witness statement from a police officer Alvin Roach, whose statement reads during clean up efforts on Sept. 13, 2001 he witnessed McKenna twisting his foot escaping fallen rubble at the World Trade Center site.
It does not state what agency Roach served.
McKenna said he's being targeted by retired New York City homicide detective Al Hickey, his wife Christine and retired New York City Police detective Steve Confino because the individuals are sour for not playing a key role in bringing World Trade Center steel to Port St. Lucie.
Mayor JoAnn Faiella gave kudos to McKenna for following through on his word to bring steel to the city.
"When you came to us you promised you were going to deliver the steel and you're going to get the credit," Faiella said. "You kept your word on that."
McKenna, a 56-year-old Stuart resident, has since 2009 founded 9/11 First Responders of the Treasure Coast Inc., United States of America 911 First Responders Inc. and Ancient Order of Hiberians in America Father Mychal Judge Division 1 of Martin County, Florida Inc.
His charities are not licensed nor registered as requited to collect donations with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
Hickey and Confino, who were verified by Scripps to be 9/11 first responders, question McKenna's stories that he was a federal agent working in his official capacity at ground zero and have since cut ties with his nonprofits.
The newspaper could find no evidence to prove McKenna claims he was at ground zero.
McKenna refused Scripps' request for an interview for Sunday's investigation, as well as declining an interview at the City Council meeting.