If he stays out of trouble for the next year, Vito Costa will avoid jail time after entering into a plea agreement deal with Westchester County prosecutors under which Costa plead guilty as charged to Grand Larceny (a felony) and Falsifying Billing Records (a misdemeanor). Costa was arrested after investigators working for the District Attorney observed Costa routinely off school grounds engaged in activity unrelated to his job over a period of a month.
Costa plead guilty on April 7, 2010 to Grand Larceny in the Third Degree and Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree and received Interim Probation. Costa will be re-sentenced on April 6, 2011 on the misdemeanor charge of Falsifying Billing Records, according to Westchester District Attorney Director of Communications Lucian Chalfen. Costa's conduct over the next year will play a large role in the sentencing.
Chalfen told Talk of the Sound that Costa has already made restitution of $40,000. In December, the New Rochelle Board of Education voted unanimously to begin litigation against Vito Costa and A 2 Z Heating and Air Conditioning and V & M Vending, two companies controlled by Costa.
Never explained by school officials is how Costa was able to work a "no-show" job with no supervisor or district employee knowing about it. There were just two HVAC Systems Technicians working for the District at the time. No action against any district employee for conspiring with Costa to defraud the school district has ever been made public and no charges ever filed.
In 2009 Frank Demasi, a carpenter in the buildings and grounds employee was found to have routinely taken home one of the district's green vans. In his defense, Demasi stated "no one told me I could not take the van". In another case from 2009, the district employed two locksmiths, a father and son team, for years then got rid of them shortly after a Talk of the Sound story raising questions about why the district was paying over $150,000 a year for full-time locksmiths. The son was later quietly brought back to work for the district.
Costa was arraigned in August 2009 on one count of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class “D” Felony and one count of Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree, a class “E” Felony based on evidence that Costa "submitted weekly time sheets which falsely reflected hours worked". The DA alleged that each Costa would claim that he worked on school grounds from 7:00 am to 3:30 pm when, in fact, he worked a fraction of that time. Investigators from D.A.'s office observed the defendant off school grounds engaged in "activity unrelated to his school job". Costa was facing a maximum of two and one half to seven years in state prison.
Be it known that the complainant herein Senior Investigator Mark DelVecchio, of the WESTCHESTER COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Westchester County, New York, accuses the defendant named above of the following offenses committed at the New Rochelle School District, 515 North Avenue, New Rochelle, New York 10801, on or about and between March 18, 2009 and April 15, 2009 during normal business hours.
COUNT ONE: The Offense of GRAND LARCENY IN THE THIRD DEGREE, a violation of Penal Law PL 155.35 DF3
COUNT TWO: The Offense of FALSIFYING BUSINESS RECORDS IN THE FIRST DEGREE, a violation of Penal Law PL 175.10 EF1
The Defendant did steal property and the value of the property did exceed three thousand dollars. The Defendant committed the crime of falsifying business records in the second degree, and his intent to defraud included intent to commit another crime or to aid or conceal the commission thereof.
To wit: The defendant, at the above date, time and place, while employed as the Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Systems Technician for the New Rochelle School District, with intent to defraud and with the intent to commit and conceal the crime of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, did submit weekly time sheets which falsely reflected hours worked for which the defendant did not work, with the result the defendant did intentionally steal in excess of three thousand dollars ($3000) from the New Rochelle School District.
Previous Talk of the Sound Stories on Vito Costa.
The Journal News picked up our story here: New Rochelle school worker pleads guilty to falsifying records