NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- Two departments in the City of New Rochelle are investigating complaints that the owner of a fencing company has been operating a commercial business out of a single-family home in the Residence Park neighborhood of New Rochelle, including the disposal of building materials by placing them curbside for unauthorized pick-up by a City of New Rochelle sanitation truck.
It is a City Code violation to operate a business out of a private home, to park commercial vehicles at a private home and to place commercial trash or materials out for residential trash pick up.
"The City is conducting a full investigation and will take appropriate disciplinary measures if impropriety is discovered," said DPW Commissioner Alex Tergis.
Two Department of Public Works supervisors were on scene yesterday after the department was notified that Truck #15 had parked in front of the house located at 217 Woodland Avenue and was being loaded with building materials, primarily wooden fencing material. The truck driver was later identified as Paul Sanna. He arrived at the scene alone in Truck #15.
Sanna arrived moments after two men finished loading building material into a large pile at the curb. The same two men loaded the material into the truck as Sanna operated the compactor, crushing and splintering wood and other material.
Talk of the Sound, on scene after receiving a tip from a reader, has received complaints about building material being stacked up at the curb outside the house for over a year.
A neighbor, who asked not to be identified, said they had noticed large amounts of fencing debris piled up in front of the house going back more than a year.
"I could never figure out a pattern but it was once or twice a month", the neighbor said.
The owner of the house is Miguel Chavaria, owner of Mike Fence Corporation, a company listed as doing business at 217 Woodland Avenue.
City Property records show Chavaria and his wife purchased the house in 2001 and that the house is zoned "single-family/residential".
The Building Bureau has opened up a seperate investigation into Chavaria for operating a commercial business out of a private residence.
Chavaria did not respond to phone calls left at the telephone number listed for Mike Fence, Corp.
The entire incident was captured on video and through still photography.
The pile of material, what appeared to be pieces of a fence that had been disassembled, was stacked in a large pile, about 25 feet wide and 4-5 feet tall.
As this reporter watched, two men walked up and down a drive way, one wearing suspenders, the other in a blue t-shirt and shorts. They carried materials, mostly wood fencing, from the back of the house to the curb. Within minutes of finishing a City of New Rochelle sanitation truck arrived, as if by appointment. The driver backed the truck up near the pile and exited the vehicle. The driver, later identified as Sanna, was wearing a bright orange t-shirt.
Sanna went by the truck to operate the compactor while the two other men loaded the building material into the truck.
After this reporter called DPW Commissioner Alex Tergis to determine whether such a pick up was permitted and whether one had been scheduled for 217 Woodland Avenue, supervisors were sent to the scene.
The video shows that Sanna catches sight of a white DPW pick up coming directly at him down Woodland Avenue. He quick-walks back to the cab, jumps in, throws the truck in gear and pulls out at high speed. Over the radio, the supervisor is heard warning Sanna not to leave and orders him to park the truck. A second supervisor pulls up in an unmarked car and blocks the truck in from behind. The pair of supervisors inspect the "hopper", by now filled to overflowing with wood then leave.
Sanna then drove Truck #15 to the Waste Transfer Station in Mount Vernon used by the City of New Rochelle.
The City has long had a problem with workers getting into legal trouble.
After DPW Fleet Manager Richard Fevang was arrested following a 66-count grand jury indictment for fraud, New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson and City Manage Charles B. Strome issued statements on accountability and high ethical standards for City employees.
"As Mayor, I consider myself accountable for the overall performance of our local government and for its integrity" said Bramson.
"New Rochelle has no tolerance for public misconduct of any kind" Bramson added. "We expect our employees to uphold the highest ethical standards, and when they do not, they ought to be held fully accountable."
"The City of New Rochelle expects all of its employees to demonstrate the highest ethical standards and as city manager, I am responsible for overseeing the conduct and performance of our personnel," said Strome.
They have had their hands full.
Below is a partial list:
Tom Taylor (building inspector): "unexpectedly resigned" following allegations of sexual harassment.
Noel Shaw (former buildings department head): falsified business records for Huguenot Hills
Renato Sansato (DPW): Arrested for assault after allegedly pulling a guy out of a bar and beating him up for failure to pay loans made by Sansato. Sansato was fired following his arrest but was later found "not guilty". Sansato told Talk of the Sound that people borrowed money from him in City Hall but since his termination these people are not repaying the loans he made.
City Hall Employee Arrested by DEA; New Rochelle Computer Systems Compromised by Latin Kings Street Gang - Jason Martinez (IT Department): Arrested by undercover DA officers for drug dealing (ecstasy pills). Live-in girlfriend/fiancé an elementary school teacher (Patricia Martinez) in the New Rochelle school system. Detectives from the DA's office found a marijuana farm where the pair lived with a young child, opted not to arrest the mother out of concern for the child.
Domenic Procopio (Civil Service Commission): Cheated on property taxes, improperly took STAR and Combat Veteran exemptions for 8 years, improperly denied jobs, failed to select from eligibility list, failed to post job opening notices, failed to hold public meetings. Required to make restitution after Talk of the Sound story on illegal Combat Veteran exemptions.
Beverly Silverman, Civil Service: "Unexpectedly Resigned" after caught paying family members for no-show jobs as civil service exam proctors; a teacher in the New Rochelle school system and the wife of a New Rochelle police officer (Alan Silverman?).
Sergeant David Rodriguez (NRPD): arrested following alleged rape of 17-year old girl,reportedly one of many sexual indiscretions by Rodriquez on and off duty. Wife is news anchor for WNBC-TV morning program who served as Master of Ceremonies for Annual Police Foundation dinner>
Police Officer Kenneth Frank, (NRPD): Burned his car and boat in insurance fraud scheme, caught working a side job while on disability leave.
Police Officer Matthew McCarrick (NRPD): Burglary, 1996.
Police Officer John DeLeno (NRPD): Along with Lucchese, alleged to have raped and sodomized a civilian police dispatcher from NRPD while they were off duty, 1996. Acquitted but fired after a departmental hearing.
Police Officer Gary Lucchese, NRPD: Along with DeLeno, alleged to have raped and sodomized a civilian police dispatcher from NRPD while they were off duty, 1996. Acquitted but fired after a departmental hearing.
Police Officer Eric Shames, NRPD (retired): Robbed a White Plains liquor store, 1993.
Police Officer Tony Jones, NRPD: "Unexpectedly Resigned" following arrest.
Police Officer Araz Alali (NRPD): Numerous issues, dismissed, sued City for racism.
Police Officer Dom Feola (NRPD): Dismissed following allegations of having sex with a 16 year old girl.
Police Officer Joe Poggoli (NRPD):: Fired after caught lying about an off-duty job, numerous allegations of theft including as PBA president (allegedly took flash light chargers donated by the Foundation, meant for NRPD officers and sold them). Sued the city and won a large amount, used the money to buy an Elton John piano for $50,000.