This is Part IX in a Series.
Phil Rossetti is something of a sad story. He is not a “good guy” but having surveilled him, researched him and reported on him it is hard not to feel just a bit of sympathy for the guy. I mean, he is a crook, there is no doubt about it, but my sense is that if he had come to work for people who were honest and kept an eye on him he would not have ended up in the position he is in today.
Phil Rossetti is known around New Rochelle as a degenerate gambler and heroin addict. For many years he owned a prosperous produce business in the West End. He lost it all due to his various addictions. He was reduced to scrounging for scrap metal and finding other ways to scrape by before getting hired by the New Rochelle Board of Education. Until recently he was a Motor Equipment Operator working in the Grounds Maintenance Department under Jimmy Bonanno. With Bonanno on administrative leave following a 30-day suspension with pay, Rossetti was recently promoted by the New Rochelle Board of Education to working-foreman of the Grounds Maintenance Department.
I have yet to find anyone who can imagine that Phil Rossetti has the wit or desire to be a supervisor of other employees. He is, according to people who have known him his entire life, incapable of functioning in this role. In fact, by all accounts he is not — the grounds crew is being run by Kyle Minichino of Aramark. Yet, Rossetti was made the beneficiary of a $29,000 increase in his annual salary as a result of his paper promotion on what was a base salary of around $60,000.
Unlike other people I have written about, Rossetti is generally known as a quiet guy, a follower, who is content to pick up and sell scrap metal on district time, do the occasional private waste disposal using district equipment, collect paychecks for hours he has not worked but otherwise not an in-your-face kind of guy like Jimmy Bonanno or Scott Empara. To a certain extent, he is a “Sad Sack” sort of fellow. If it were not for the fact that his stealing scrap metal, stealing time, misappropriating district equipment and falsifying billing records are all crimes, likely felonies, that have resulted in him stealing tens of thousands of dollars a year from the district you might end up feeling sorry for him too.
I know that when he was served a subpoena to be deposed in the lawsuit brought by the Bonannos, he ran around his apartment like a scared rabbit screaming and yelling and hiding. That lawsuit was certainly one of the dumbest stunts pulled by Jimmy Bonanno — apparently no one explained to him that through discovery I would be able to obtain all sorts of personal and financial information about him and his son, both their personnel records and have the opportunity to subpoena records and depose witnesses including district employees working under him.
I never did get to depose Rossetti but I did depose an executive of Pascap, the scrap metal business in the Bronx where Phil dropped off metal on a frequent basis, and was able to obtain four years of records for both Phil Rossetti’s personal account and the District’s scrap metal account.
The case ended before I was able to obtain the actual slips for each time Rossetti went to Pascap to the Bronx but they do exist and what they will show, should anyone bother to obtain them, is that Rossetti was routinely at Pascap during the middle of the work day. Pascap also video tapes every transaction so those slips can then be matched up to video clips that will place Rossetti in the Bronx, often several times a week, when he claims to have been working. This includes the weekends when Rossetti claimed to be picking up recycling material at schools which, according to one source, he never did. If he were charged on this alone, he would be looking at hundreds of counts related to falsified billing records.
As I mentioned, there were two accounts. What Rossetti would do is occasionally deliver some low-value scrap metal like aluminum to Pascap and have that credited to the district account. Anything of real value like brass or copper would be credited to the Rossetti personal account.
Then there is the issue of where this scrap metal came from. Rossetti owns an infamous beat up 1989 Ford pickup truck. He would spend time throughout the work week picking up scrap metal, mostly driving around New Rochelle. Sometimes he would be dispatched to pick up metal by Jimmy Bonanno. Other times he would be called to a specific school that getting rid of metal — desks, file cabinets and so forth. Rossetti lives on Washington Avenue and parks his truck on the street near his house. Not safe for a truck full of copper. When Rossetti had a load of metal in his truck (often) he would park his truck at the Cliff Street yard. This is the one circumstance when the gates would be sure to be closed and locked. Jimmy was a partner in this business, allowing to Rossetti to operate a scrap metal business on district time.
One big score for Rossetti was at Barnard School when the then-incoming principal thought it would be a good idea to have the old intercom system ripped out (it wasn’t a good idea). The system was an old analog system that ran throughout the building, connected by copper wires. Bonanno and his crew were called to the school, dragged the cabinet housing the main system out to the driveway in front of the school and smashed it to pieces with axes. Rossetti set aside a large amount of copper, put in his truck and sold it at Pascap.
As I mentioned previously, it was Rossetti was who reported to the Westchester County District Attorney in 2013 for picking up trash at his son’s business on Weaver Street and co-mingling that private trash with district trash which was then driven to Mount Vernon and dumped at the waste transfer station on the taxpayer’s dime. Rossetti was recorded by New Rochelle police moving trash from his truck to the district truck with the assistance of Willie Clark.
Readers may recall Willie Clark arrested by New Rochelle police for brutally assaulting three college-age young people on North Avenue; he was later convicted. There was several exchanges about Willie Clark when Jimmy Bonanno Senior was deposed in 2013 that are worth a brief digression to explore both Willie Clark’s actions and the convoluted logic of Jimmy Bonanno’s sworn testimony.
Under oath, Jimmy Bonanno swears he has seen the Talk of the Sound article dated October 23, 2012, about Willie Clark’s arrest, conviction and sentencing to 3 years probation. He says he saw it because he was mentioned in it and made a copy for his lawyer. Jimmy Bonanno later says he knows that Clark was arrested at night.
Later, Jimmy Bonanno says in somewhat fractured English, “I never knew City Hall was notified by Mr. Clark himself when he got arrested” then flips his testimony and states he never knew Clark was arrested. Then he says “I don't remember if they waited until they [City Hall] got a police report on the incident before they let him come back to work. You'd have to check with civil service. They'll know more about it.”
So he does not remember the sequence of events but does remember Clark was kept out of work, that at some point “they” meaning City Hall let him come back to work. He is just not sure if they allowed him to come back to work before or after [City Hall] got a police report on the incident. Moments after saying he does recall that Clark was kept out of work, Jimmy Bonanno is asked whether he recalls Clark not showing up for work at or about the time he got arrested and Jimmy Bonanno says he does not remember.
At the next deposition a month later Jimmy Bonanno recalls that he testified that he did not know that Willie Clark was a convicted criminal. Having testified previously that he knows Willie Clark was arrested at night he claims he does not recall testifying that Clark was arrested at night and says he knows nothing about Clark being arrested at night. Later, Jimmy Bonanno compares Willie Clark to Dick Cheney, then says he does not know the story of what happened with Willie Clark, that he did not print out the story, that he did not read the story, that he does not remember testifying that he copied the article.
Here are the transcripts, again these have been edited for clarity without altering the meaning.
Deposition of Vincent James Bonanno by WVOX lawyer
September 13, 2013
Q. Do you know the name Willie Clark? You just mentioned the name Willie Clark.
Q. You grew up with Willie Clark?
A. Yes. He went to school with my ex-wife. I knew him a long time….
Q. By the way, Willie Clark is now on probation?
A. I don't know that.
Q. You don't know that?
Q. He still works for you?
Q. Do you know if he's a convicted criminal?
A. I don't know that.
Q. All right. Take -- please, take a look at the article that's dated October 23, 2012, picture of Willie Clark. Do you see that?
Q. Have you ever seen this before?
Q. When did you see it before?
A. This is one of the articles where he wrote I'm in every article, I'm in this article, so I sent copies to my lawyer.
Q. So, you read this article because somebody said take a look at this article?
A. Yes. My name is in this article.
Q. Oh, Patrick Clark. I'm talking about Willie Clark. I'm sorry. I'm on the Willie Clark article now.
A. I'm on this article.
Q. All right. Let's go ahead to October 23, 2012. And there's an article about Willie Clark. Correct?
He works for you. Correct?
Q. He worked for you when he got arrested?
A. He wasn't working. He was off. It as at night.
Q. Well, during this time period, during the week in which he got arrested, he worked for you?
Q. And this article says: "Talk of the Sound learned of the arrest several weeks ago in relation to an investigation of James Vincent Bonanno, subsequent to a lawsuit filed by Bonanno and his son against Robert Cox, managing editor of Talk of the Sound and Hudson-Westchester radio, owners of WVOX 1460 AM. Sources tell Talk of the Sound that Bonanno was aware of Clark's arrest, allowed Clark to leave work to attend the criminal case against him, and failed to report the arrest to his superiors." That's what it says. I have a question. Do you dispute that sources told Cox that?
A. I misunderstand that. I don't know where he got it from, but it never happened. I never knew City Hall was notified by Mr. Clark himself when he got arrested. I didn't know he got arrested.
Q. Was he ever suspended from work?
A. Not to my knowledge he wasn't.
Q. He continued to work for you on your crew?
A. Yes, I believe so. I'm not sure.
Q. What part of that aren't you sure of?
A. Well, I don't remember if they waited until they got a police report on the incident before they let him come back to work. You'd have to check with civil service. They'll know more about it.
Q. Do you have any memory of his not showing up for work at this --
A. I don't remember.
Q. -- at or about the time he got arrested?
A. No, I don't remember.
Deposition of Vincent James Bonanno by Robert Cox, Pro Se
October 14, 2013
Q. So let's talk about Willie Clark for a little bit. You recall testifying the other day that you did not know that Willie Clark was a convicted criminal?
Q. So would it surprise you to know that he's currently on probation?
A. Have no idea about Willie Clark. I don't know none of his personal business.
Q. So would it be surprise you to know that he was on probation?
A. I don't know what you mean surprise me, it is his personal business. I don't know about it. You are telling me now.
Q. Okay. Are you required to sign any documents on behalf of Willie Clark with the office of probation or any other government agency regarding his probation or employment?
Q. Do you recall testifying that Willie Clark was arrested at night?
A. I don't remember saying that, but I know he got in a fight or something, yes.
Q. Well, to my question, do you know anything about him being arrested at night?
So you never testified to that?
A. Your question is a little confusing. I don't remember what I testified. At the time he got arrested, I didn't know.
Q. Well, what you testified was the truth; right?
A. Yes, everything I told has been the truth.
Q. So I can pull it up, but you recall we actually looked at a story about Willie Clark being arrested; do you recall that?
Q. Okay. So do you now know that he was, in fact, arrested?
A. I know from your stories and from gossip, but nobody from the school district has ever told me anything as far as City Hall.
Q. How about Willie Clark himself, has he ever talked to you about it?
Q. Did he ever ask you for any time off so he can go to court?
Q. Do you recall testifying that you made copies of the Willie Clark article that I wrote?
A. I don't remember that exact -- they saying I made copies, but I probably did.
Q. And since we looked at it, you recall the article was about him being arrested?
Q. Okay. So can you help me square this part up here where you've testified that you don't know that he was arrested but you are testifying that you are familiar with the article and you know he was arrested at night, can you help me square those things up?
A. Sure, I know he was arrested after everybody else knew. At the time he was arrested, I knew nothing about it.
Q. Okay, but you don't know?
Q. Did you learn what exactly he was arrested for?
A. I guess if I read the article it might have been in there, but all I know is he said he had a fight -- he didn't say it to me, I heard the guys talking he had a fight with three college kids or something like that.
Q. We'll go get those records. Were you aware that Willie Clark was arrested for domestic battery?
Q. Do you think Willie Clark should have been fired?
A. It is not up to me, it is up to the district.
Q. I'm just asking what you think, they work for you.
A. Well, it seems like you are saying they hire a lot of people with records, so they either got to fire them all or let them all work, and you say he's still working, it is not up to me.
Q. Well, I appreciate that, I'm just asking what you think because you said that you think some people should be fired and I'm asking about people who work for you?
A. Well, I believe some people need -- deserve second chances. Dick Cheney, who had 2 DWIs and became the Vice President, so sometimes you have to give people a second chance.
Q. Do you think violently assaulting three people on the street is the same thing as a DWI?
A. I don't know that story. I don't know nothing about that.
Q. I thought that you said that you did know that story. I thought you said that you printed it out, you knew he was arrested at night; didn't you?
A. No, I didn't say that.
Q. Did you read the article that I wrote about Willie Clark?
A. I don't remember reading it now.
Q. You remember copying it?
A. No, I remember telling you I remember it involved 3 college students, that's all I remember telling you.
Q. And you remember what his interaction was with these college students?
A. All I heard was a girl hit him over the head with a glass or something. I really didn't -- this is none of my business. I found all this out way after the incident.
I thought this was worth sharing because it provides yet another glimpse into why Bonanno’s lawyers sought to abandon him after the depositions — he cannot keep this story straight from one minute to the next. And we get a look at a violent criminal working for the district. This is abut why I consider Phil Rossetti in a different category than some of the other people working in the district. Rossetti is no hero but it seems unlikely that Rossetti would have openly and actively engaged in a criminal activity but for the encouragement of Bonanno and other people around him. To that extent, Rossetti, while not a “good guy” is not the root of all evil either.
I wrote about Bonanno ordering his men to work at his girlfriend’s house in Orange County. From the beginning, Phil Rossetti was always identified to me as one of the Bonanno crew that went to the house but Bonanno denied it under oath.
Phil Rossetti was with Jimmy Bonanno and Anthony Raffa when I videotaped them as they sat, drank coffee and talked for hours, all on District time. In December, Bonanno, Raffa and Rosetti were observed sitting for hours in the back parking lot at Ward School for a period of days Bonanno and Raffa suspended over this but Rossetti was not only not disciplined but later promoted to Bonanno’s job.
Phil Rossetti was assigned by Jimmy Bonanno to go each morning to 867 Weaver Street to pick Jimmy’s son, Little Jimmy and bring Little Jimmy to Grove Street where Little Jimmy keeps his work van parked — the only person not on Big Jimmy’s crew to do so.
Phil Rossetti along with Bruno Montessoro is one of the people who was assigned by Jimmy Bonanno to drive around vehicle E-72, a White Dodge Ram assigned to Big Jimmy. By driving E-72 around it creates the illusion that Jimmy is working and allows Jimmy to drive around in his personal Grey Dodge Ram (New York License Plate CWX 5030).
I have been told many times that Little Jimmy and Phil Rossetti are ex-junkies now in the Westchester County Methadone Treatment program. I did observe and record James Vincent Bonanno at the Methadone clinic in his district van during work hours, Rosetti was not with him that day. It might explain why Rosetti was “assigned” to pick up Little Jimmy, that they go to the Methadone Clinic together during certain days of the week.
I think readers can tell from my tone that I mostly feel sorry for Phil Rossetti. He was badly treated by Jimmy Bonanno. He is also another district employee treated, like Patrick Clark and Cheryly Minor, as personal valets for their boses.