NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- In an action that some are calling "shocking" and "inexplicable", the City of New Rochelle has hired Scott Pickup, the disgraced City Manager of Rye to work as Deputy Commissioner of Public Works in charge of Operations.
Pickup was hired to fill then position which became vacant when James Moran was promoted to City Engineer to fill that spot after former City Engineer John Clemente was fired. Moran had taken over the position of Deputy Commissioner after Joe Cotroneo was fired in June, 2011, the same month that Richard Fevang was fired after he was indicated on a 66-count fraud indictment by the Westchester District Attorney.
Asked about the controversial hiring via email, New Rochelle City Manager Charles B. Strome issued a terse statement to Talk of the Sound.
"[Public Works Commissioner Alex Tergis] conducted a thorough search and made his selection as a result of the search. He has a career that includes a lot more than just Rye." (Pickup Resume)
Pressed to expand on his answer, Strome said "Mr. Pickup was hired by the Public Works Commissioner. I will leave it to Alex if he wants to comment further."
"Scott’s skills and experience are what got him into our final round of three candidates," said Tergis, "His uniqueness is what helped determined his being chosen."
Sources familiar with the matter say that it was Strome who put Pickup forward as a candidate raising questions as to how much say Tergis really had in selecting Pickup.
City Council members who asked not to be identified for this article, expressed concern that the first they heard about the hiring of Pickup was from Talk of the Sound.
Strome dismissed such concerns.
"City Council is not involved in the hiring and firing of employees at this level," said Strome.
Some Council Members wondered why Strome would not have at least given them a heads up on what was sure to be a controversial hiring that would attract media attention. All noted that unlike with most hirings, the City Manager failed to send an email after Pickup began work last week advising them of the new hire.
Pickup was forced to resign effective, April 23, 2014, several months after former Rye Golf Club manager Scott Yandrasevich was arraigned on one count of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a class “C” Felony at Rye City Court on Nov. 19, 2013. The charges came following a criminal referral to the District Attorney by lawyers hired by the City described in a Report on the finances of the Rye Golf Club
Those charges were later expanded by the District Attorney's Public Integrity Bureau based on further investigation to include ten counts of Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree, class “E” Felonies.
"Between April 10th, 2007 and August 20, 2012, the defendant, who was the General Manager of the Rye Golf Club, stole approximately $342,120 from the Club and the City of Rye" said Westchester County District Attorney spokesperson Lucian Chalfen. "[Yandrasevich] knowingly submitting false invoices to the City of Rye for fictitious employees over this approximate four and a half year period."
Yandrasevich, 50, of Danbury, CT accomplished the alleged larceny by setting up and effectively controlling a staffing company called RM Staffing for the purposes of billing the City of Rye for services provided to the Club. According to a statement by the DA's office, Yandrasevichsubmitted false bi-weekly invoices on RM Staffing stationary listing individuals who were falsely described as working in “Administration,” “Restaurant” and/or “Operations” at the Club, when in fact no such persons worked for the Club. After RM Staffing received the money, it was transferred back to the defendant, who used the money for his own personal use.
Yandrasevich faces a maximum sentence of fifteen years in state prison.
Pickup was first hired by the City of Rye on July 9th, 1992. He was promoted to Assistant City Manager in 2005 and promoted again to City Manager in 2010.
Under an Employee Separation Agreement, Scott Pickup remained employed by the city until July 10, 2014.
One source familiar with the matter says Pickup was motivated to remain on the Rye payroll as Assistant City Manager for reasons related to his pension.
As City Manager, Scott Pickup, signed-off on a majority of the more than $7 million in purchase orders submitted by Yandrasevich since 2006.
Yandrasevich was first hired by the city as the golf club’s general manager in 2002 and set up RM Staffing in 2006 while Pickup was Assistant City Manager.
The City of Rye has filed a $2 million insurance claim with Travelers Insurance to recover some of the $7 million spent with RM Staffing
Travelers is reportedly set to begin conducting interviews with regards to the City of Rye insurance claim.
A trial date for Yandrasevich has not been set.
The investigation into the larceny [at the golf club] is continuing," said Chalfen.
A Rye resident alerted Talk of the Sound to the hiring of Pickup by copying Talk of the Sound on a series of voluminous Freedom of Information requests filed with New Rochelle City Clerk Bennie Giles.
Timothy Chittenden FOIL
Kindly consider this an e-mail FOIL Request for the following docents with regard to Scott Pickup:
1. All letters of recommendations for Scott Pickup.
2. Pickup's resume.
3. Pickup's employment application.
4. All 211 Waiver applications submitted on behalf of Pickup and all approvals/denials.
5. Job posting/opening filled by Pickup.
6. All correspondence with Westchester County HR with regard to the canvassing and hiring of Pickup.
7. All records of Pickup's salary and benefits.
8. Pickup's date of hire.
9. Pickup's job description.
The original request was amended to include "All records of all searches performed by the City of New Rochelle or your agents to fill the position filled by Scott Pickup including but not limited to all advertising for the position, all postings for the opening on the New Rochelle website, all postings for the opening on any other website (indeed, etc), all postings for the job opening posted at all New Rochelle public facilities and all other forms of advertising/recruitment for this position."
Chittenden has offered to share the results of his Freedom of Information request with Talk of the Sound which we will publish upon receipt.