Bryan Cohen Jul. 17, 2013, 8:50pm

NEW YORK (Legal Newsline) -- New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman released a preliminary report Wednesday looking into how charitable organizations spent more than half a billion dollars in the months following Superstorm Sandy.

The report, which is called "Charitable Response to Hurricane Sandy," found that at least $238 million of the more than $575 million raised for Sandy relief was not spent as of April.

Based on data provided by 89 charitable organizations, the report raised questions about whether some of the funds reportedly spent on Sandy relief were actually spent on non-Sandy related purposes, like organizational overhead.

Seventeen organizations reported that they might use funds raised after the storm for non-Sandy purposes, including in the relief of future disasters.

"Last year, after Superstorm Sandy devastated families and communities throughout our region, people throughout New York, across the country and around the world opened their hearts and made more than half a billion dollars in charitable contributions to help those in need," Schneiderman said in a statement.

"New Yorkers are resilient and generous people. As we have done so many times in the past, we got right to work rebuilding. We have a responsibility to the people who donated their hard-earned money to help our community rebuild to make sure that the contributions they made were used as advertised."

The attorney general said his Charities Bureau would send letters to at least 50 organizations to demand greater accounting of Sandy-related contributions.

The bureau will request that organizations consider redirecting funds they are not using for Hurricane Sandy relief to organizations that are continuing to provide assistance, he said.

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