We first broke the story on Talk of the Sound months ago that Vito Costa, an employee of the City School District of New Rochelle, was being investigated by the District Attorney for his no-show job as an HVAC engineer. The axe fell earlier today. We will publish the charging documents as soon as they become available.
We knew the arrest was coming but did not want to jinx it by pre-empting the DA like we did with the Martinez arrest. Instead, we alluded to it in our Facade of Rectitude post yesterday as sharp-eyed readers no doubt noticed.
We have more soon but let's start with the obvious question. Does any believe a guy could hold a no-show job and his co-workers and bosses did not know? Be prepared for the District to roll out the old "isolated incident" line, try to take credit for the DA's work here and pretend to be "shocked, shocked" that there is fraud and theft going in the maintenance and grounds department.
The department head John Gallagher should come before the school board to be publicly questioned about Costa, Demasi, the Locksmith father-son team and the rest of the sorry mess and then terminated as rapidly as possible. Recall this is the guy doling out huge sums in phony overtime.
Our sources tell us that Costa has engaged in his little game for YEARS. Same with Demasi. So not only Quinn and Organisciak but their predecessors need to do sone explaining. And where is Marty Daly in all this? He's the guy covering for the crooks in maintenance and grounds; the guy threatening to sue to protect all manner of criminal in order to keep them employed and sending their dues to FUSE.
The Journal News has a very limited account of what was going on with Costa.
Here is what sources have told Talk of the Sound.
Assistant Superintendant John Quinn first became suspicious of Costa when he noticed discrepenies between inventory of HVAC-related items (refrigerant, pipes, roofing material) and invoices. Readers will recall how the NYS Comptroller had flagged questionable "emergency" HVAC invoices for over $14,000 because there was no supporting documentation for the claim of an emergency. Because the work done was declared an emergency no competetive bids were sought as required by NYS law.
Quinn brought his concerns to the attention of Scools Superintendent Richard Organisciak who, under the advice of the District's lawyer, Jeffrey Kehl, refused to take action. Readers will call the District recently reauthorized Kehl's "no contract" contract under which Kehl's firm has been paid millions upon millions of dollars. The school board was also made aware of the situation. Under pressure to do something about Costa for several months Organisciak finally agreed to report the matter to the DA. His report to the DA was so light-hearted and dismissive of Quinn's concern that initially the DA did not think much of the matter. But did request copies of the invoices. After investigators reviews the invoices and other documents they became interested. They monitored Costa's movements and later "interviewed" him.
The charges against Costa are based on what DA investigators observed over several weeks. As noted above sources tell Talk of the Sound the misappropriation of supplies and failing to work hours for which he was paid has been going on for years.
Costa is a small fish. Talk of the Sound can only hope prosecutors are able to put him on their hook and reel in some of the big fish. This first arrest should be the first of many in the maitenance and grounds department. Maybe the District can even do something about the $800,000 overtime "slush fund" being used to pay these crooks OT for "snow removal".