NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- Following the hiring of a Level 3 Predicate Sex Offender for an hourly worker position in its Department of Public Works, the City of New Rochelle is looking into how that hiring came about and whether to change current hiring practices to include criminal background checks.
Currently, some positions but not all require criminal background checks.
“We do that for certain positions already,” said City Manager Charles B. Strome. “Police, Fire and anyone who applies for a job that had direct contact with children such as Parks and Recreation programs and Youth Bureau programs.”
Questions remain as to how a person with felony rape convictions could be employed by the City of New Rochelle.
The New York State Sex Offender Registry lists Michael Edward Newman, 49, as a Level 3 (high risk) Sex Offender residing in Mount Vernon. New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services records show Newman was arrested by Mamaroneck Town Police in 2000 and later convicted of First Degree Sexual Abuse (Contact By Forcible Compulsion), a Class D Felony. On November 14, 2001, he was sentenced to 42 months in state prison. Newman was arrested by the New Rochelle City Police Department in 1996 and convicted on November 22, 1996 of Third Degree Rape (Rape involving a Victim Less Than 17 Years Old with Perpetrator 21 Years Or More), a Class E Felony.
Despite his documented history as a dangerous sexual predator, Michael Newman began work for the District on the day after Memorial Day. That Friday, Strome was contacted by Talk of the Sound about the decision to employ a Level 3 Predicate Sex Offender. Strome said he knew nothing about it nor did Public Works Commissioner Scott Pickup.
Sources within the Public Works Department say that Sanitation Department officials knew Michael Newsman was a rapist before they hired him. This list is said to include Joel Serrano, Manager of Refuse, William Bonacci, Assistant Superintendent of Refuse and John O’Keefe, Manager of Streets and Highways.
Corporation Counsel and Chief of Staff Kathleen Gill told Talk of the Sound that O’Keefe is the manager who interviewed Newman for the position.
“Everyone in the yard knew,” said one city employee who asked not be identified for fear of retaliation.
Strome said he has initiated a review into Newman’s hiring.
“I am reviewing this particular hire” said City Manager Charles B. Strome.
There has been speculation that Michael Newman had help from his brother, Anthony Newman, a glazier with the City School of District of New Rochelle and a pastor at a local church.
Michael Newman listed his home address on his New Rochelle job applicaiton as 121 Coligini Avenue in New Rochelle.
Michael lists his brother's home address on Lincoln Avenue in Mount Vernon as his Primary Residence.
Michael Newman’s brother, Anthony, has his own history of allegations of sexual assault and sexual harassment.
In July 2011, Anthony Newman was accused of sexually assaulting another School District employee at City Hall, the daughter of an elected official in New Rochelle. He is a glazier in the Buildings and Grounds Department of the City School District of New Rochelle. Newman was was suspended for 30 days with pay, pending a hearing on allegations that he sexually assaulted a female staffer. At the time, sources told Talk of the Sound, Anthony Newman has been accused of sexually harassing women working for the school district for years.
In the 2011 incident, Newman allegedly approached the victim and grabbed her breasts. This followed a previous incident where Newman engaged in inappropriate sexual contact with the victim and made sexually suggestive comments. Since the recent complaint, two other woman have come forward with additional complaints.
After the initial complaint was filed, Newman’s boss, Director of Environmental Services John Gallagher, now under indictment on federal corruption charges, ordered Newman to stay away from City Hall. Newman was suspended by Gallagher when Newman returned to City Hall.
At a hearing on November 22nd, 2011, a key witness gave testimony that differed from statements she made in an affidavit prior to the hearing. There was speculation at the time that the witness was pressured by union officials to change her story. As a result of the contradictory testimony by the witness, a settlement was reached under which Anthony Newman was allowed to keep his job but accept a temporary demotion for one year.
“We all believe this happened as (the alleged victim) described", said one senior school official who asked not to be identified, "but given the confused testimony by a key witness, (attorney for the District Jeff) Kehl had no choice but to settle the case."
Under the deal, Newman remained at home on paid leave until December 31st, 2011 and then returned to work at a lower pay grade on January 1, 2012. He was reinstated a year later at his prior pay grade.
Among his peers, Anthony Newman is not considered a competent glazier.
"People joke about Newman," said one source. "They say 'don't stand under a window installed by Tony Newman.“
In his New Rochelle job application, Michael Newsman claimed to reside on Coligni Avenue in New Rochelle. The New York State Sex Offender Registry lists his address in Mount Vernon. Sources tell Talk of the Sound that Michael Newman bounces around from the place to place including Peekskill and his brother’s apartment in Mount Vernon.
A phone call to a number Michael Newman listed on his job application was picked up by a man believed to be Anthony Newman.
A phone call to a second number listed on Michael Newman's job application was picked up by a man who said he tell Michael to call back.
A call to the Mount Vernon Police Department which has jurisdiction over Michael Newman was not returned.