BROOKLYN, New York - Brooklyn prosecutors on Monday cleared ACORN of criminal wrongdoing after a four-month probe that began when undercover conservative activists filmed workers giving what appeared to be illegal advice on how to hide money.
While the video by James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles seemed to show three ACORN workers advising a prostitute how to hide ill-gotten gains, the unedited version was not as clear, according to a law enforcement source.
"They edited the tape to meet their agenda," said the source.
O'Keefe and Giles - who visited ACORN offices in several cities, including its Brooklyn headquarters - stirred controversy when they posted the videos on their Web site.
They were hailed as heroes by the likes of Rush Limbaugh and their footage led several government agencies to temporarily cut funding for ACORN as the prosecutors opened an investigation.
"On Sept. 15, 2009, my office began an investigation into possible criminality on the part of three ACORN employees," Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes said in a one-paragraph statement issued Monday afternoon.
"That investigation is now concluded and no criminality has been found."
Reaction at ACORN, which is in the process of reorganizing and is struggling to re-establish its financing, was subdued.
"Acorn is gratified that the DA has concluded something we knew all along," ACORN lawyer Arthur Schwartz said, adding it was "unfortunate" the O'Keefe and Giles used "subterfuge to convince congress and the media to vilify an organization that didn't deserve it."