Jimmy Bonanno is untouchable!
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".
Two days after Schools Superintendent Richard Organisciak attempted to quell anger on the New Rochelle Board of Education over reports of district employees making personal use of district vehicles, a Bonanno employee is still taking a district vehicle home every night and weekends.
At the board meeting on Tuesday April 24th, Organisciak made a public statement to announce that he had brought with him a copy of the "Superintendent's Policy" that would address concerns over a Talk of the Sound report that district plumber Anthony Raffa was taking district Vehicle E-68 home at night rather than his personal vehicle. The policy later presented to the board in executive session, DISTRICT OWNED VEHICLES 3530 USE OF SCHOOL DISTRICT VEHICLES is actually a Board of Education policy, a directive from the board to the Superintendent, as several displeased board members later pointed out to Talk of the Sound. The document makes clear that Organisciak has not been enforcing the policy for his entire tenure as Schools Superintendent in New Rochelle.
Misappropriation is a form of theft. It is a felony offense. In law, misappropriation is the "intentional, illegal use of the property or funds of another person for one's own use or other unauthorized purpose, particularly by a public official, a trustee of a trust, an executor or administrator of a dead person's estate or by any person with a responsibility to care for and protect another's assets (a fiduciary duty). It is a felony, a crime punishable by a prison sentence."
Salvatore "Sal" Porretto is a public employee. He is the working-foreman in the Buildings & Grounds department at 51 Cliff Street. His direct supervisor is Vincent "Jimmy" Bonanno, the supervisor. Bonanno and his son, "Little Jimmy" are well-known to Talk of the Sound readers regarding numerous incidents of malfeasance. By permitting Porretto to misappropriate the vehicle, Bonanno could be charged as an accessory. Just add it to a very long list.
Vehicle E-47 is a Jeep Cherokee owned by the district. Sources tell Talk of the Sound that Porretto has for many years been making personal use of Vehicle E-47 and that he routinely, brazenly parked the vehicle directly in front of his house at 5 Edgewood Park in New Rochelle. Talk of the Sound has confirmed that E-47 with the words "City School District of New Rochelle" clearly marked on the side of the vehicle has been parked there in the early evenings, late at night and in the morning.
E-47 has a hitch mounting system on the front to attach a snow plow. Porretto reportedly uses the vehicle in the winter to operate a private snow removal business, raising additional questions about whether Porretto has been declaring income from this business to the New York State Department of Taxation and the Internal Revenue Service.
One Several sources tells Talk of the Sound the has been parked there (often illegally) for years, going back to at least 2007-2008. Porretto has been driving R-47 for more than 10 years.
The vehicle does not have a registration sticker (it says "VOID"). The rear license plate does not have the required inspection sticker. The absence of registration stickers on the vehicle raises questions about whether the vehicle is insured or even street legal. One mechanic familiar with New York State Vehicle Inspection protocol expressed amazement that the vehicle had been passed for inspection in New York State without having a valid New York State registration.
Last year, Talk of the Sound reported on a red garbage truck owned by the school district for five years which has never had proper registration, license plates or insurance. The registration and plates on the vehicle were registered to the Village of Pelham Manor, NY.
Within the district administration, Assistant Superintendent John Quinn is responsible for the district's fleet of vehicles, a responsibility he has almost entirely delegated to John Gallagher who has, in turn, delegated responsibility for vehicles like E-47 to Vincent "Jimmy" Bonanno.
Porretto is a working-foreman in the Buildings & Grounds department at 51 Cliff Street. His direct supervisor is "Jimmy" Bonanno. Both Jimmy and his son, "Little Jimmy" are well-known to Talk of the Sound readers.
Bonanno is said to have long permitted Porretto to make personal use of the vehicle with the knowledge of upper management including John Gallagher and Anthony Rigos.
Board members have expressed outrage over the misuse of district property and the failure of Gallagher to account for school equipment and personnel during the work day, overnight and on weekends.
This latest incident comes in the wake of a heated executive session of the New Rochelle school board late last month after Talk of the Sound reported additional cases of New Rochelle school district employees were still misappropriating district vehicles to run personal errands like getting dosed with methadone ("Little Jimmy" Bonanno) and keeping vehicles at their home overnight (Anthony Raffa) in clear violation of Board of Education policy. Talk of the Sound has been reporting on similar incidents since 2009 involving a district carpenter and an HVAC worker. Vito Costa was arrested by the Westchester County District Attorney and later plead guilty to crimes relating to working a no-show job while using district equipment and supplies to operate a private business while being paid to work for the district.
The Buildings and Grounds Department under Gallagher has been rife with corruption and criminality for many years with contractors paying off Aramark employees, district employees under them stealing time, supplies, equipment and converting public property to personal use, sources say.
Schools Superintendent Richard Organisciak attempted to deflect the concerns of board members over the Raffa story by telling board members at an executive session on March 27th to "consider the source", a favorite line of the Superintendent when confronted with reports by Talk of the Sound of malfeasance occurring under his watch. This time the board was not buying it. Board President Chrisanne Petrone rebuked Organisciak, telling him that she never wanted to hear him say "consider the source" again, according to some of those present.
Ironically, Raffa and another district employee, Phil Rosetti, were working at the Barnard School while the executive session was taking place. Shortly after the meeting ended, Raffa and Rosetti were observed driving their personal vehicles out of the back parking lot at Barnard. They are supposed to use work vehicles at work and go home in their personal vehicles, a common practice familiar to anyone who has ever held a job.
Rosetti, one of the employees dispatched during the work day by Bonanno to work on Bonanno's girlfriend's house in Orange County, often drives his personal vehicle during the work day so he can pick up scrap metal when he is supposed to be working. Sources tell Talk of the Sound, he sells the metal and splits the proceeds with Bonanno yet another Bonanno enterprise that tax authorities might find interesting.
For reason not yet clear, Rosetti has been parking his private vehicle overnight and on weekends at the school district yard at Cliff Street. Past being prologue, there is sure to be some story behind that. When we have it we will be sure share it with readers.
The board policy on district vehicles was adopted in 1998 during the presidency of long-time board member Diedre Polow. She enacted the policy with board support after she and other school officials observed a district vehicle parked in the driveway of a house on Davenport Avenue near the New Rochelle beach clubs.
Policy 3530 states that only authorized staff may use district vehicles, during the school day for School District business only. The use of a School District vehicle overnight or during the weekend is expressly prohibited, unless it is for "School District business and has the prior approval of the Superintendent of Schools". The policy designates the Assistant Superintendent for Business’ Office (John Quinn) as the custodian for all School District vehicle keys, requires that all keys and E-Z Passes are to be "turned into the Assistant Superintendent for Business’ Office (John Quinn) by close of business the next business day" and that Quinn "maintain a sign-out and sign-in sheet for the use of School District vehicles".
Quinn appears to have delegated his responsibilities under 3530 to John Gallagher who holds the twin titles of Director of Buildings & Grounds and Director of Environmental Services at City School District of New Rochelle but who in reality is an employee of Aramark Schools. The diversified services giant acquired the New Rochelle contract when they bought the facility-services business of ServiceMaster in 2001. Gallagher is one of four Aramark Schools employees that are responsible for facilities management in the New Rochelle public school system. The others are Anthony Rigos, James Purdie, and Godfrey Daphness.
In 2009, after a Talk of the Sound series on the misappropriation of school vehicles for private use by employees working under Gallagher and Rigos, memos were sent by the pair to all Buildings and Grounds employees "reminding" the district employees that they are responsible to return "district vehicles under their supervision" to an assigned location, primarily New Rochelle High School, 51 Cliff Street and 88 Grove Street and warned that "under no circumstances are vehicles to be brought home or be off premises with the prior approval from myself or Anthony Rigos." Memos were sent by Rigos on April 13, 2009 and May 6, 2009 and copied to John B. Quinn, Assistant Supervisor for Business Affairs.
UPDATE: E-47 was again parked in front of 5 Edgewood Park tonight (Friday April 27, 2012 at 7 PM). It looks like it will be there all weekend so feel free to drop by and take a look for yourself. You are paying for that Jeep so maybe Sal will let you take it for a spin.
UPDATE: I inquired with the New Rochelle City Manager about the word "VOID" on the registration sticker on E-47.
April 27, 2012
Dear Mr. Strome,
This vehicle is parked at this moment in front of 5 Edgewood Park. I am told that for about 4-5 years the home owner, Sal Porretto, has been driving this vehicle, parking it on the street, often illegally, and yet it does not get ticketed. Setting aside that this vehicle is a school district vehicle being taken home in violation of district policy, how can a vehicle with "VOID" registration be on the road, how can it pass inspection? What does VOID even mean?
Talk of the Sound
UPDATE: I received a prompt reply that went well beyond my original request.
April 30, 2012
Dear Mr. Cox:
This letter is written to inform you about the outcome of the City's investigation on inquiry regarding the vehicle which is often parked on Edgewood Park (reference number: 2012-7518).
The investigation that resulted from your inquiry revealed the following. The Police report that a DMV check revealed that the vehicle and plates are valid as is the vehicle’s inspection sticker (November 2012). Except for motorcycle registration stickers, NY State doesn't place stickers on the rear license plate of vehicles. At one time, the registration may have been removed; often when a vehicle’s windshield is removed due to damage and when the sticker is pulled off the word “void” appears on the sticker. DMV will not issue a new registration sticker until registration’s expiration date. The Police should be called at the time that the car is observed to be parked illegally (654-2300). Currently, it appears valid.
Concerns about the school district vehicle being taken home in violation of district policy should be reported directly to the Board of Education (576-4201).
I hope this information is helpful. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact me in this office.
Charles B. Strome, III
UPDATE: This afternoon I received an email from an attorney representing Sal Porretto demanding that I immediately take down this article.
April 30, 2012
Dear Mr Cox:
This Law Firm is retained by Mr. Salvatore Porretto with respect to your internet posting about him which is patently false, and causes libel to Mr. Porretto in his profession, which you know is libel per se. You are not cloaked with immunity for your false statements and you have not researched this matter appropriately or in good faith. If you cared about the truth, as to why the School District Vehicle is parked in front of my client’s home, you should have sent a FOIL request to the School District before you posted your false statements about Mr Porretto.
There seems to be a lot of hate and personal animus by you towards a group of people, and now you have brought in my client’s name to the fray, falsely, inaccurately and maliciously.
Immediately take down your posting about my client, as my client’s damages increase every minute you keep the posting available for public access, scrutiny and comment. I place you on notice that you are falsely/malevolently bringing about public scorn of Mr. Salvatore Porretto, who is a respected member of the Community and employee of the School District of New Rochelle.
Anthony Pirrotti, Jr.
Pirrotti Law Firm LLC
Scarsdale, New York
UPDATE: I responded within the hour.
April 30, 2012
Thank you for contacting me with your concerns. It is our policy to make corrections clearly and promptly and I will certainly strive to do so in this case.
I am not aware that I have made any false statements about Mr. Poretto in my internet posting by which I understand you to refer to above linked article on Talk of the Sound. If you will kindly point out specific statements that you contend are false I will address each one in its specifics. If you have documents or other information not in my possession that would support your claims I would appreciate receiving copies so that I might review them and better understand your concerns.
At this time, I believe your request that I immediately take down my article which references Mr. Poretto is overly broad and unreasonable. A great deal of the article covers policy issues regarding school district vehicles. photographs, citations from district records and accounts of various incidents that do not involve Mr. Porretto at all.
Thank you for time and consideration.
New Rochelle's Talk of the Sound
UPDATE: He responded to me within the hour of my response.
April 30, 2012 at 6:22 PM, Anthony Pirrotti Jr. wrote:
What is unreasonable is that you did not do your homework, you did not FOIL any information from the School, you do not know why the School District truck is parked in front of my client’s house, and you rush to Judgment without knowing all of the facts; that is NOT journalism, that is not protected under the law.
You are acting out of spite and hate, and you are bringing into the fold of your dispute, a good man who has done no wrong.
We each mark our path in life and paddle our own canoe. Sometimes when you are wrong, and act in haste and anger, you make errors. Here you made a complete error, were negligent in failing to do proper research and then purposefully hurt someone, disparaging his good name. All we have in life is our good name: nothing is more important than that, other than health.
You do what you have to do, but I am certainly not going to do your work for you. Take it off and out immediately. Once you do that, then I will show you how, with a little bit of input, you could have easily found out why Mr Porretto has a School District automobile outside his home.
Anthony Pirrotti, Jr.
Pirrotti Law Firm LLC
UPDATE: I responded to him soon after.
April 30, 2012
I am more than happy to correct any errors in the article. I am requesting that you point them out to me so that I can evaluate your claims and make any corrections that are warranted. So far you have declined to do that. I hope you will reconsider.
It was not my intention to ask you to do work for me in providing records. You have indicated that there are records that would support your claims. As you are requesting that I act "immediately" it seemed to me that your providing these records would be the most expeditious means of my addressing your concerns.
I am open to any suggestions you might have on how I might "reasonably describe" the documents you appear to be referencing so that I might meet the standard under FOIL and make a request of the district to provide the records.
New Rochelle's Talk of the Sound