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New Rochelle Board of Education: Criminal Enterprise Masquerading as an Educational Institution - Part X

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New Rochelle Board of Education: Criminal Enterprise Masquerading as an Educational Institution - Part X

February 20, 2015 - 16:20
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This is Part X in a Series.

As I mentioned previously, being somewhat familiar with Jimmy Bonanno and the matters involved in his lawsuit against me and having spent many hours with him at close quarters during depositions and court proceedings there are a number of exchanges during the depositions that are almost like absurdist theater. They really beg to be performed. May be they can be turned into a play?

Here are a few such exchanges.

One issue that came up in the Bonannos lawsuit against me was whether Jimmy Bonanno was a public figure as the bar for a defamation case would be higher. The attorney for WVOX hoped to establish that Bonanno a supervisor with authority to act on behalf of the district. Bonanno’s lawsuit sought to minimize Bonanno’s standing by describing as a private citizen and a lowly “groundskeeper”. When the lawsuit was filed Bonanno was required to sign a Verification swearing that he had read the complaint, understood it and that the claims in it were true.

When questioned under oath during depositions in the fall of 2013, Bonanno contradicted his sworn verification statement when he stated either that things he had claimed were not true or that he did not know them to be true. These admissions undermined his case because they demonstrated that Bonanno had made statements in his complaint that were false or that he did not know to be true.

For example, he swore in his complaint that my radio show on WVOX was listened to by 5 million people During his testimony he claimed my show was listened to by 50 million people. He also testified that every person in New Rochelle, all 77,000, listened to my show and that everyone in New Rochelle knew what I had said about him.

WVOX is a tiny 500 watt station. The signal often struggles to be hear in the North End of New Rochelle. There are 13 million people in New York State; 8 million in New York City. It is preposterous for him to claim that millions of people listened to my show (would that it were true!) or that every man, woman and child in New Rochelle listened to my show.

Despite his sworn statement in the complaint he filed with New York State Supreme Court, Jimmy Bonanno states that he was a supervisor, that his job specifications did not require him to do manual labor, that he had the authority to file criminal complaints on behalf of the district under his own authority, that he could negotiate on behalf of the district with the owner of the Cliff Street property. Bonanno produced letters from school officials over the years crediting him for the work done by his department. In fact, Bonanno was a working-foreman just like Scott Empara (Electricians), Anthony Paganico (Painters) and Victor Cristiano (Carpenters) which meant he was required to work just like any other worker in his department.

Below is exchanges where Bonanno is trying to explain the discrepancy between what he swore to in his lawsuit and what he testified to in the depositions. As usual, it does not go well for Jimmy, much to the dismay of his attorney.

Deposition of Vincent James Bonanno by WVOX attorney

September 13, 2013

Q. And what is your position now?

A. General Grounds Foreman.

Q. Would you consider yourself a groundskeeper?

A. I kind of don't understand that because my job is all supervisory. There's no manual labor involved.

Q. So, if you were called a groundskeeper, that wouldn't be accurate?

A. I'm not sure.

===

Q. What's the difference between a supervising foreman and a foreman who's not a supervising foreman?

A. A non-supervising foremen does manual labor. He works.

Q. And thank God you don't have to do manual labor?

A. No, that's not true, because a lot of times I do help my men and I hop in equipment and I do work, but my specs say it's all supervisory, and that's how it reads.

===

Q. I’m going to ask you to look at the next-to-last page, or as the reporter would call it, the penultimate page. Was is your understanding of that page?

A. It's my understanding that I'm theplaintiff who is suing, and I signed my name.

Q. What did you sign your name to? Were you swearing to anything?

A. Verification.

Q. Okay. In your own words, what's your understanding of what you were doing on this page?

A. It's saying that I am the plaintiff, and within the action I have read all of the foregoing verified complaint, and know the contents thereof. The same is true to my own knowledge, except to the amount therein stated, be alleged on the information and belief, and to those matters I believe to be true. And I signed it.

Q. And did you -- was that true when you signed it?

A. Yes.

Q. So, is it now your testimony that you reviewed this complaint?

A. I don't understand. I didn't just review it.

Q. Everything that comes before the next-to-last page, did you ever see that before today?

A. Yes.

Q. When did you see it?

A. I don't remember.

Q. Did you see it when you signed the verification page?

A. I don't remember.

12 Q. When was the last time you saw this?

A. I really don't remember.

Q. As you sit here today, do you swear to the truth of everything in that complaint?

 

MR. SANTORI: Objection. Don't answer that.

MR. NORWICK: Are you directing him not to answer?

MR. SANTORI: That's a ridiculous question, yes.

MR. NORWICK: Are you directing him not to answer?

MR. SANTORI: The answer is yes.

MR. NORWICK: Let's have that marked. I marked as an exhibit the rules applying to this deposition. If you're going to direct him not to answer when there's no privilege at stake, I'm going to bring this to the Court.

MR. SANTORI: You can do that.

MR. NORWICK: All right. I'm going to ask you now to read the complaint.

MR. SANTORI: This is eight pages. Do you want to take some time?

HE WITNESS: I remember it.

MR. NORWICK: I don't know. Do you want to take a break?

THE WITNESS: I don't need a break. I'm good.

MR. NORWICK: All right.

THE WITNESS: I remember it as I'm reading it.

 

A. Okay.

Q. As you sit here today, having just read the complaint, do you swear that it's all true?

A. Yes.

Q. Okay. Take a look at Paragraph 1. No, let's start on Paragraph 4. It says that you are a groundskeeper. I think you testified that that wouldn't be true. Is that right? Are you or are you not a groundskeeper?

A. I think I answered you that before. I don't know if that would be my -- I'm a General Grounds Foreman.

Q. I know, but it says -- you just swore that you were a groundskeeper. Is it accurate when you said -- is it accurate in this Paragraph 4 that you're a groundskeeper, yes or no?

A. You got me confused. I don't understand it.

Q. Are you a groundskeeper? Are you fairly described as a groundskeeper?

A. No.

Q. Okay. So, when you just swore to the truth of this whole complaint, that's an exception. Right?

A. Could you repeat the question?

Q. Well, two or three minutes ago you swore to the truth of the entire complaint. Correct?

A. Correct.

Q. All right. And now you're telling us that it's not correct and not accurate to describe you as a groundskeeper. Is that correct?

A. No. It is a groundskeeper, but they don't call it a groundskeeper no more.

Q. You are a groundskeeper?

A. Like I did say before, that I get out and I do work on the grounds. So, I don't know how you look at it. I am called a General Grounds Foreman. I guess it's how you look at the position, if I'm a groundskeeper or not. That's an old term.

Q. It's in your complaint. It's not my term.

A. Okay.

Q. All right. Now let's look at Paragraph 1, where you just swore that the WVOX radio station program that you're suing about is "broadcast to over five million listeners." Is that true?

A. I believe it to be true.

Q. And what's the basis for that belief?

A. A lot of people told me, and I think I read something online.

Q. What's the population of New Rochelle?

A. I don't know.

Q. Well, I looked it up this morning. You don't have to believe me. But it said about 77,000 people. Is that correct? Is that your understanding, about?

A. I'm not sure.

Q. Okay. But you extrapolated, from people saying things to you, that they have five million listeners. Is that right?

A. It goes out.

Q. It goes out where? Okay. You said -- you reaffirmed that you're swearing to five million listeners.

A. Yes.

Q. Okay. And what is your understanding of the reach, the bandwidth, or  whatever the hell it's called, of WVOX?

A. My understanding was that the owner of WVOX has many stations that picks it all up and it goes -- also goes on the Internet, and it goes out to all different publications, which it did.

Q. Okay. Well, let's break that down, because that's good testimony. Your testimony is that the radio -- the programs on VOX go on the Internet?

A. No, no.

Q. Well, then what is your testimony about that?

A. My testimony is that the radio station has one -- I thought they have a sister and brother stations where it goes out.

Q. So, when you were talking about five million, you weren't talking about WVOX?

A. I was talking about WVOX.

Q. Okay. So, your testimony is that WVOX reaches five million listeners?

A. Yes.

Q. And you base that on your understanding that people listen to it?

A. Yes.

Q. You swore. This is serious business when you swear to something.

A. Yes.

Q. You swore to five million listeners. You swore several times in the last few minutes to the truth of the statement that they reach five million listeners. I want to know all the basis you have for that statement.

A. I just -- that's what I thought, five million listeners.

Q. It's what you thought. Kind of like a guess?

A. Could you repeat?

Q. When you said you thought they had five million, what was the basis? Why did you think that?

A. A radio program should have a lot of listeners. I just thought it was five million.

Q. You just thought it was five million. And it was just sort of an assumption on your part?

A. I'm not sure at that time when I got the information. I don't remember where I got it.

Q. No. Sir, you testified today that that's inaccurate.

A. I know.

Q. You thought it was five million. Do you want to retract the five million now or do you want to stand on it?

A. I want to stand on it.

Q. Okay. And it's based on something you thought? I want to know, as fully as you can, the basis for your swearing today that WVOX has five million listeners.

A. I don't really remember. I went online and I thought that was the number that they said, they had five million listeners. That's

9 where I got it from.

Q. WVOX?

A. I went on WVOX's site. Maybe I'm wrong. That's where I went.

Q. All right. And that's the basis for your swearing to it now?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you know the population of New York State?

A. Excuse me?

Q. Do you happen to know the population of New York State?

A. No, I don't.

 

At one point, Jimmy Bonanno is asked a series of questions meant to establish whether he believes something he said under oath was an example of corruption —  that he “asked” his workers to give up their personal time and vacation days to drive to Orange County and work on his girlfriend’s house, a house he testified he intended to make his own residence. Bonanno struggles mightily with these questions but ends up saying there is nothing wrong with a supervisor in the district asking people who work for them — whose work assignments, job appraisals, hours and overtime they control — to do free work for them and give up pay or a vacation day in order to be available to do this free work.

By the way, there is no evidence that the predicate for this exchange that his men worked solely on weekends and weekdays when they took vacation days, is true. What I was told by multiple sources is that Bonanno arranged to “pay” his men in other ways like allowing them to take a day off but paying them for that or adding overtime hours to their time sheets for hours they did not work. His claim fell apart when he admitted that one of the district workers at his house was Sean O’Neill, a part-time worker who was not eligible to take vacation days. O’Neill would simply not be paid for not working.

In any case, here is the exchange. Bonanno is thrown for a loop by how the exchange begins.

Deposition of Vincent James Bonanno by WVOX attorney

September 13, 2013

Q. …Would it be corrupt for a supervisor to ask someone working directly under him to do him a favor and have sex with him?

A. I don't understand that question.

Q. Would it be corrupt, we've all heard about supervisors propositioning and having sex with people work under them, would that be a perfectly okay or would that be corrupt?

A. I think it is improper.

Q. Improper, well you said the definition of corrupt is doing something wrong, right, that was your definition?

A. Yes.

Q. So it would be wrong for a supervisor to ask somebody working under him to have sex with him; correct? Q. You said improper, I'm just changing the word to wrong.

A. It is kind of a hard question to answer because sometimes supervisors go out with people that work for them. Like cops go out with each other sometimes even, and maybe it is improper, but that's their personal --

Q. You are a supervisor, do you think it is improper to ask someone under you to have sex with you?

A. I have all men work for me --

Q. Men have sex.

A. It is improper.

Q. And corrupt?

A. I don't know about the word corrupt, but I know it is improper.

Q. How about if a supervisor asks someone working under him to give him $200, "give me $200," would that be improper or proper?

A. I don't know.

Q. It might be okay?

A. I don't know.

Q. What would you have to know to be able to answer that question?

A. People who work together everyday people say can I borrow ten dollars, that's not --

Q. That wasn't the question, it wasn't a loan, it was a gift. Give me -- not a loan, just give me $200?…Can you think of a situation where it would be proper for a supervisor to say to somebody under him give me $200, do me a favor give me $200?

A. Does that mean he's borrowing it?

Q. No, give me, not a loan, just give me 200 --

A. When you say give me, it's not like you are stealing it, you are asking the guy to give you 200.

Q. And you think that would be okay?

I'm just asking --

A. I don't understand the question. I don't know.

Q. Is it proper in your view for a supervisor to ask somebody working under him "to give me $200"? Would it be proper for a supervisor to ask someone working directly under him to give up a vacation day, which is probably worth $200, as a favor? Is that proper?

A. Vacation days, you can do whatever you want for your vacation days. You are free to do whatever you want with it. My friends ask me to give him a hand doing something at their house and I have to take a vacation, no problem, and it is not improper.

Q. Not improper for a supervisor to ask someone under him to give up a vacation day to do a personal favor for the supervisor? That's your testimony, and we will present that to Mr. Gallagher and we'll see what he thinks, but right now it is your testimony; is that proper? Is it proper for a supervisor to ask someone working directly under him to give up a vacation day as a personal favor to work on his girlfriend's house; is that proper?

A. It is not improper.

Q. It's okay.

A. It is okay, yes.

Q. Did Mr. Gallagher know that you did that? Did you ever tell Mr. Gallagher that you had asked your men to give up vacation days to work up on your girlfriend's house?

A. I don't have to ask nobody, on my vacation I can do what I want.

Q. It is their vacation.

A. If I take a vacation, and they take a vacation, and we want to play golf or we want to go fishing, or we want to work on my girlfriend's house, we are free to do what we want.

Q. Except that you asked them to do you a favor; correct? The boss asked the underlings to do

him a favor and give up a vacation day; isn't that correct?  Isn't that exactly what happened?

A. No, these are not underlings, these are people that I grew up with from kids, we are long time friends, and that's what friends do for each other --

Q. They are not underlings --

A. I said that to you before.

Q. They are not underlings, your testimony is that they were not underlings under you. If that's your testimony, that's  your testimony.

Q. Are they laborers under you?

A. When they are on the job, they are under me, yes.

Q. Thank you very much.

As far as who these laborers are, Jimmy Bonanno ran the Grounds Maintenance Department for many years so you might think he would know who works for and be able to readily answer questions about that. You would be wrong. He cannot even count how many people work for him (he testifies to 11 names and that the number is less than 10).

Deposition of Vincent James Bonanno by WVOX attorney

September 13, 2013

Q. …how many people work under you?

A. I'm not sure of the exact count right now.

Q. All right. More than 15?

A. No.

Q. More than ten?

A. No.

Q. Fewer than ten?

A. Yes.

Q. Can you name them?

A. Yes.

Q. Please do.

A. Sal Poretto, John Consolo, Willie Clark, Bruno Montesorro, Eric Graffe, Tony Girardi, Eddie Jones, Ms. Umbro. And I have a temporary worker, Chris Landrine.

Q. Have you completed the names, as far as you can -- you can do that?

A. Did I say Lenny Pace? Lenny Pace. That's it.

Q. Thank you. This is really not supposed to be a memory test, but do you have an employee named Phil Rossetti

A. Yes.

Q. Did you neglect to mention him?

A. I thought I did. I might have not.

One last exchange that might actually getting Jimmy Bonanno in some hot water with animal rights activists and dog lovers — and should. As a dog owner myself, I know it made me angry to hear about these neglected dogs left in cases and then listen to Jimmy talk about them as if they were receiving great care. For years, Bonanno has kept dogs at the Cliff Street yard. This has upset a number of people who complained about it to me. I have never seen these dogs but what I am told is that they are dirty and flea-bitten, poorly cared for and spent most of their time locked up in cages. Jimmy was ordered many times to get rid of the dogs but ignored orders from Quinn and Gallagher to get rid of the dogs. Jimmy tasked John Consolo with the job of cleaning the cages, not normally part of the job description of a district employee. Jimmy claims that the district knows he has the dogs, that they are OK with him keeping dogs. He says the dogs are sick but does not explain who takes care of the dogs when they are sick, whether they are taken to a vet and, if so, who pays for the vet. He says the dogs were “rescued FROM” the district which suggests the district is keeping dogs elsewhere which makes no sense but later says the dogs were gotten to put on the fields in the morning to get the geese off the fields but that they are not used for that, that he uses his own personal dog for that. In other words no one walks the dogs, they are restricted to their cages but can go outside in a small area behind the building which houses the Grounds Maintenance department. No word on who is liable if the dogs bite someone. There are times, like this holiday week where the B&G crew is off from Friday until Wednesday (service professionals are often required to work several days during vacation weeks) which suggests that days go by with the dogs left alone in their cages. It was apparent that Little Jimmy thought he was supposed to lie about the dogs but with a look from his father got the idea that we already knew about the dogs.

Here is what the Bonannos have to say about the dogs:

Deposition of Vincent James Bonanno by WVOX attorney

September 13, 2013

Q. The next paragraph reads at least -- after it says "Jimmy Bonanno is untouchable" it reads: "At least that is the message he is sending to the New Rochelle Board of Education.  He and his crew have been involved in all manner of illegal activity, and yet Bonanno laughs in their face, ridiculing the Board and his bosses, while remaining ensconced in his taxpayer funded hideaway bungalow at 51 Cliff Street, protecting his turf with a personal security system and guard dogs." Do you dispute any of that?

A. I dispute it -- I dispute it all.

Q. Okay. So, tell me about your bungalow. Do you have a bungalow?

A. No.

Q. What do you have?

A. I have an office.

Q. Okay. Does your office have a kitchen?

A. No.

Q. Does it have a bathroom?

A. No.

Q. Where do the people at 51 Cliff Street go to use the bathroom?

A. We have a bathroom in the hallway.

Q. The hallway of what?

A. Of our building, the hallway.

Q. Where your office is?

A. It's outside my office.

Q. It's outside your office?

A. Yes.

Q. Is there a kitchen in that building?

A. In the back there's -- there's not really a kitchen.

Q. The answer is no?

A. There's a kitchen upstairs. They don't use it. And the one downstairs they really don't use a kitchen no more. We don't have a stove. We just have a refrigerator. We have an old-fashioned stove that --

Q. How about a microwave?

A. We have a microwave.

Q. Have you got a toaster oven?

A. No.

Q. Coffee machine?

A. They don't drink coffee. We keep one in my office, a Keurig.

Q. Me too. Is there a personal security system at the building or at 51 Cliff Street?

A. No.

Q. No security system at all?

A. None.

Q. Okay. Tell me, are there any dogs on the property?

A. Yes.

Q. What are the dogs? Tell me about the dogs.

A. Two little mutts.

Q. Whose dogs are they?

A. We rescued them from the school district and we used them -- we used to use them -- we used them for chasing the geese off the fields.

Q. Who is the "we"?

A. The grounds workers.

Q. The dogs belong to the entire crew?

A. They take care of them like they're their own dogs, yes.

Q. Does anyone own the dogs?

A. I don't think so.

Q. Where do the dogs live 24/7, at 51 Cliff Street?

Q. Does anybody take them home?

A. No.

 

Deposition of James Vincent Bonanno by WVOX attorney

October 11, 2013

Q. Is there a doghouse on the left side of the picture?

A. Yes.

Q. Whose doghouse is that?

A. I don't know.

Q. Whose dogs are in there?

A. I don't know.

Q. B and G dogs?

A. I don't think -- I think it's vacant. I don't think -- it's --

Q. Did you ever see a dog?

A. Not --

Q. At Cliff Street?

A. Not in the house.

Q. Anywhere in the Cliff Street property?

A. Sometimes, yeah.

Q. All right. And when there were dogs there, do you think they lived in that doghouse?

A. I guess.

Q. Okay. And on which side the property is the doghouse?

A. The left side.

Q. On the nonschool board property?

A. Correct.

Q. So the dogs that your father testified were dogs that are being maintained by the B and G department were housed in a doghouse on nonboard of ed property. That's your testimony?

6 Q. That's your testimony?

7 A. Yeah.

Deposition of James Vincent Bonanno by WVOX attorney

October 11, 2013

Q. All right, Mr. Bonanno, I'm going to take you back to the photograph that's VJB 17, in this photograph, there is what your son described as a doghouse; correct? Is that correct?

A. Yes.

Q. Is the doghouse still there? Is what you son described as a doghouse still there?

A. It is two -- I believe it is two old doghouses butted together, but they haven't been used in a long, long time.

Q. But they are sitting there?

A. They are just sitting there, yes.

Q. So if someone had to use the driveway, they would have to be able to go between the doghouse and the building?

A. Nobody uses the driveway but the landlord, and the landlord gave us permission to put the boat and the dogs there.

====

Q. Is there a fence behind the boat?

A. Yes.

Q. What's behind the fence?

A. That's where the dogs come out to the property there.

Q. The dogs?

A. Yes.

Q. Where do the dogs sleep at night?

A. In the school building.

Q. You mean in the one story concrete building?

A. They have a fenced in pen inside.

Q. Inside the building itself?

A. Yes.

====

Q. Okay, I just wanted to clarify that. I want to be clear, your dogs, how many dogs are there?

A. Two.

Q. Okay, and when they are outside they are in what you call their right-of-way?

A. No.

Q. Where are they when they are outside?

A. They are on the landlord's property.

Q. Yeah, which you call the right-of-way? Q. Did you not call it the right-of-way?

A. I did not call that the right-of-way.

Q. Okay, so the dogs are in the space between the building, forget about who owns it, they are in the space between the building and the CONRAIL wall; correct?

A. Yes.

Q. Yeah, okay. And then when they are inside they are caged in inside?

A. Yes.

Q. Have you been asked to get rid of them?

A. No, the school district knows we have them.

Q. Excuse me, I missed it.

A. I said no, they know we have them.

Q. And you have never been asked to get rid of them?

A. No.

====

Q. So on to the dogs at Cliff Street.

A. Yeah.

Q. So if I get this right from your previous testimony, there are cages inside the building and then there is an area outside the building where they can walk around outside; is that correct?

A. Yes.

Q. And then there is dog houses but they don't use the dog houses anymore; is that correct?

A. Correct.

Q. And so besides walking around in the area just outside the building behind the boat, and what you testified to earlier, and being inside of the cages, do the dogs go anywhere else?

A. The dogs were originally gotten to put on the fields in the morning to get the geese off the fields. So they just stay in their pen and they have a doggy door to go outside.

Q. Okay. Do you use them to go after the geese now?

A. We haven't used them because they have been sick, so I have been using my personal dog to do it.

Q. You have another dog?

A. My personal dog from my house.

Q. And is your dog licensed and trained to chase geese on fields?

A. I believe he's trained from me. He's a Jack Russell and he loves chasing animals.

Q. And these two dogs on Cliff Street, are they licensed or trained specifically to chase geese?

A. No, we train them.

Q. Are you aware of any laws that would prohibit using dogs that are not licensed and trained to chase geese off of fields?

A. No.

Q. Would it surprise you to know that there is such a law?

A. No, but we don't release the dog, we keep them on a leash, the dogs. They treat them like their puppies and babies. They are always washing them and trying to get them to play dead so I think they keep them clean.

Q. Okay. Is anybody assigned to clean up the cages?

A. No, they all help out.

Q. So in particular you don't have John Consolo assigned to that job?

A. No, John loves dogs. He likes to do it, but they all do it, including --

Next up, I am going to get into the nepotism going on with Jimmy Bonanno and his son, especially as regards overtime.

NEXT: New Rochelle Board of Education: Criminal Enterprise Masquerading as an Educational Institution - Part XI

New Rochelle Board of Education: Criminal Enterprise Masquerading as an Educational Institution - Table of Contents