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NYC Explorers Club ethics panel member buries criminal past

NYC Explorers Club ethics panel member buries criminal past

The wacky wanderlusters at the Explorers Club didn’t venture too far into the history of one of their board members, who has buried criminal convictions in her past.

Aida “Idee” Belau, who heads the famed Upper East Side club’s audit committee and sits on the ethics and executive panels, didn’t tell the club about guilty pleas for writing bad checks.

Belau, 51, is an engineer, scuba diver and photographer who claims on her website that her “passion for exploration has taken her to the ocean’s depths as a technical diver, to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro, and into a field study with the Amazon’s indigenous Matis tribe.”

She also landed in the wilds of the North Dakota criminal justice system.

A court system database shows Belau with six closed criminal cases from 1992 and 1993. There are three misdemeanor charges for bouncing checks, to which she pleaded guilty, the site says.

There were also three felony charges for writing checks without having an account. The website shows Belau pleaded guilty in all three cases. She completed a total of 80 hours of community service in lieu of jail time, according to the site.

Belau was also accused of a misdemeanor count of writing a bad check in Brevard County Florida in 2001, public records show. She was never prosecuted, and the case was dropped after she paid $106 in restitution, according to a Brevard County prosecutor spokesman.

The spokesman says it appeared that Belau was suspected in a total of seven incidents involving worthless checks between December 2000 and November 2001, but was only charged in one.

Belau blamed the North Dakota crimes on her ex-husband, with whom she said she had a checking account. She provided documents showing two felony cases were “amended” to misdemeanors, and a third was dismissed after she met the conditions of her probation. Belau said she knew nothing about any Florida cases and had received federal government security clearances for the Department of Defense and Security and Exchange Commission.

“The board and Club have no formal way to disclose this information that I’m aware of, though if a disclosure requirement were in place, I would have taken the appropriate measures as I’ve done with my security clearance applications,” she said.

Will Roseman, the club’s executive director, said it stood by Belau.

“We are proud to have her as a board member and a leader at The Explorers Club,” he said.

The revelations come at a time of turmoil and infighting at the 116-year-old organization — whose members have made history by going to the North and South poles, the summit of Mount Everest and the moon. Members are divided over a re-naming deal with the Discovery television networks, lawsuits and accusations of bullying and harassment by club officials.

Former members Christine Dennison and Timothy Taylor, a couple who hunt for sunken World War II submarines, sued the 70th Street club after they were expelled over a dispute centering on their rental of office space at the headquarters. Dennison, then single, was once involved in a romantic relationship with Richard Wiese, the club president who was also dating its executive director at the time, whom he later married. She told The Post her expulsion “felt like a vendetta.”

Wiese has not commented on the relationship. The Attorney General’s office is also reviewing a complaint that the board violated its own bylaws including in the election of Wiese as president.

About the author

James Thompson

James Thompson

James Thompson has worked in various news organizations and now aims to make Report Door one of the best and fastest growing news websites in the U.S. He contributes to the US and World sections.

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