As Westchester County District Attorney Indictments Loom, New Rochelle Fires Deputy DPW Commissioner Joseph Cotroneo - UPDATED

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This story has been updated with a statement by City Manager Charles Strome.

The City of New Rochelle today fired Deputy DPW Deputy Commissioner - Operations Joseph Cotroneo.

Cotroneo is the second top DPW official this past year to resign or be fired since the Westchester County District Attorney's office began an investigation into an alleged kickback scheme to defraud the City of New Rochelle by submitting phony invoices. Former DPW Commissioner Jeffrey Coleman resigned unexpectedly last July, just days after investigators from the DA's office visited the New Rochelle DPW City Yard at 224 East Main Street.

DPW Fleet Manager Richard Fevang, under investigation by the District Attorney for 8 of the last 11 years, is widely expected to be indicated as soon as next week.

Reached by telephone, Cotroneo hung up on a reporter seeking comment. City spokesperson and City Manager Chuck Strome did not respond to phone calls seeking comment made to their City Hall offices before 5 p.m.

Last December Joseph Cotroneo was caught by a City official using City resources to remove snow from a private commercial parking lot in the West End of New Rochelle. The parking lot is owned by Robert Lopez, a former City Council member and current Democratic City Council candidate. Also involved was Joseph Quatrochi, Working Supervisor for Streets & Highways.

Days prior to the Lopez Snow Removal incident, Cotroneo stood guard at the DPW maintenance shed as investigators from the DA's office executed a search warrant in the ongoing criminal investigation of the New Rochelle DPW.

Cotroneo was previously employed in Harrison, NY.

UPDATE: City Manager Chuck Strome emails "The decision was made by the Commissioner and is unrelated to the district attorney investigation. It was performance related."

Developing...

Commenting on this Blog entry is closed.

namenda on Sun, 06/19/2011 - 19:43
Title: cookie jar

If you get caught doing something potentially illegal -- your "performance rating" goes down.

Nice scoreboard, Chuck!!!

Ruforreal on Sun, 06/19/2011 - 12:18
Title: Good Guy!

Joe is a good guy... they didnt like him from the begining because he wasnt a company man!! Joe knows the real deal...His workers are treated like crap..over worked and underpaid!!

You will be missed Joe...They did you a favor by getting you out of this stinkin City..They would have only brought you down with them!!!

Martin Sanchez's picture
Martin Sanchez on Sat, 06/18/2011 - 12:12

These illegal acts by senior members of Chuck Strome and Noam Bramsom's administration are certainly an indictment of both individuals who have sustained a management style of looking the other way while rogue employees have thumbed their noses at tax payers and good employees in New Rochelle. We have many employees who dedicate themselves to coming to work and coming to work on time without the needed distraction of thinking that they would steal resources or time from an already beleaguered city workforce. Has anyone heard the eloquence of Noam on these indictments? The hypocricy of his silence is enough to make any New Rochellean think that he really does not care or he really is unwell. We all advocate the good news in New Rochelle, and there are some good things happening here, but the measured of a good leader is to stand up and deliver the bad news - stand up and say, yes, we messed up and it's my fault. It's about courage Noam! It's about being honest with yourself!

theshaddow on Sat, 06/18/2011 - 10:49
Title: D.P.W

Its about time the city counsel starts doing there job and and make some changes up in that city hall. On a sports team the HEAD COACH gets fired not the players it does not seem to work that way in this city at all....

Mike New Roc on Fri, 06/17/2011 - 23:21

Robert Cox, great job in exposing the dishonest people who give a black eye to the rest of the hard working employees and Residents of new Rochelle. I hope the DA hits these people hard and send a message. I also am happy that New Rochelle stepped right in and fired this guy. New Rochelle, Saved the Taxpayers quite a bit of money since some municipalities would suspend an employee pending charges without pay for 30 days and are back on the Payroll and the Criminal case can take a while. On the other hand, Since Cotroneo is a Deputy Commissioner and that is an appointed position and serves at the Pleasure of the Commissioner or the City Manager..
Mike

Mike

NRinfo on Sat, 06/18/2011 - 01:52

I agree with Mike EXCEPT for the statement; "I also am happy that New Rochelle stepped right in and fired this guy." Catroneo should have been fired weeks ago but the administration knew the District Attorney subpoenaed him and the administration did not want Cptroneo testifying as a disgruntled employee. It is high time to cut the good old boys loose and cleanse the city’s workforce. I realize this is not the typical civil service employee but the rotten apples are more than just a few. Mayor Bramson, then Councilman Bramson, was on council when the initial Fevang investigation took place. The question that begs an answer is; how could this situation continue and flourish without extreme oversight? Heads must roll from the top down.

namenda on Fri, 06/17/2011 - 23:12
Title: city manager

If Mr. Strome is running our town, 2 things come to my mind.

1) What does he know, he never says anything but all this nonsense is on his watch!!

2) If he knows things, then why doesn't he do anything about it.

Either way he should resign for doing a horrible job.

Warren Gross on Sat, 06/18/2011 - 16:54
Title: cotroneo

This brings to mind the important issue of the relationship between the City Councl and City Manager. I think the Charter is relatively clear and I have indicated a number of times in the past that the Council has to clarify roles, relationships and responsibilities and manage Chuck Strome and thus, all city operating departments. If minority members (now the GOP) puts this on the agenda and establishes a clear set of expectations and are voted down, they have a platform to run on. I am a voter and I want my Council man to take an active part in city government. I also want him to look at the real issues taxpayers face -- Bob Cox has spent many man hours indicating the effects of school disrict management and my pet issue continues to be downtown development. Of course Noam Bramson has a responsibility but so does the entire sitting council on ALL issues facing the taxpayer.

The Cotroneo posting tells me something important -- looks like Roberto Lopez's driveway was getting a haircut. Just reinforces my personal commitment to Louis Trangucci who show couraage and integrity where and when it counts. I hope he and others take positive steps in the future. We have quarreled enough. Let Bramson and St Paul sit down and work out some proper working relationships and oversight responsbilities and I am asking for all members of this community who give a damn about this City to step up in a positive way, introduce yourself by name, and work towards meaningful change. We are running out of time internationally, nationally, in our state and our community.

I agree that Bob Cox provided the basis for a much needed action here as did Louis Trangucci. I don't care what their politics are, this was an important public service.

Timknows on Sun, 06/19/2011 - 00:16

Misterg, while you claim voter/party neutrality it would appear Bramson has received a few dollars from you over the years. The reality is that Bramson and St. Paul hate each other and are locked in a heated political race. There is no way they will sit down and agree on anything over the next four months. Bramson has been quoted, as saying there should never be another republican elected in New Rochelle so any hope of meaningful bipartisanship is a pipe dream. The city manager serves at the pleasure of city council so council can and must direct the city manager. Chuck Strome was not the city manager during the first Fevang incident. Noam Bramson was on city council during the first Fevang incident and is now at the helm of the current multi-department scandal. Bramson is the only common denominator over the last eleven years and must accept responsibility for his failure. The democrats have controlled New Rochelle for twenty years and have fostered the pay-to-play politics, which breeds the crooks that rape the system.

It was only the courage of Councilman Trangucci to bypass the administration and go straight to the District Attorney that exposed these shameful thieves. It is interesting that Roberto Lopez, a former city councilperson, learned how to play the game and was able to continue playing after leaving office. Oh what a tangled web they wove, unfortunately their house of cards is falling down. Trangucci has exposed the underground which rapes the city from no-show jobs to phony veteran tax exemptions and Moody's has has exposed their hocus-pocus budgeting practices when it comes to fund balance by placing a negative outlook on New Rochelle's bond rating. A negative outlook relates to failed recurring income which can only result in higher property taxes.

Warren Gross on Sun, 06/19/2011 - 18:47
Title: Timknows

Tim I am not naive in the least. Of course I have contributed to Noam's campaign. So what! Many people contribute to campaigns as do many corporations and unions. Maybe you don't but so what.Of course St Paul and Bramson are at loggerheads. So what; it is politics as usual.Here is my challenge to you -- step forward with some specific accusation against noam bramson that you can state and prove; otherwise yuo don't have aything but personal animus which is your right. As far as my suggestion about the role of the City Council the City Charter should enlighten you on that -- essentially if the Council exercises its role in relation to city management -- it is the essence of what I am driving at. As far as Trangucci is concerned, I am an avid supporter and will work for him on his campaign. My only problem with you is you draw inferences without fact and that gets no one nowhere. If Bramson is guilty, state your name and bring a charge. Simple as that. He is one of 7 council members and it is time for him and the rest of the council to step up and address issues and work on downtown development and school district issues, the past does not matter much anyone and the future may not come. Work on today! You have one point worth repeating and that is the relationship between Noam and Richard is toxic. Look at the last council meeting on your computer and see the drivel that took place on the relatively simple issue of the Refugio church. Makes you want to cry. Haven't seen such garbage since the Dinkins years in NYC (likely a little older than you). About 12-15 or so years back the voters turned down the "strong mayor" structure and it would have been better if they didn't. You sound like a guy who gives a damn about the City -- better to have fact, not inferences and step up to the plate with them or else it is no more than reinforcing the very things you are against. Enjoy fathers day

Timknows on Mon, 06/20/2011 - 12:54

Misterg, let's be clear, if there was a paper trail Idoni & Bramson would be in bracelets. The only person on council over the last 11-years that Fevang was allowed to rape the taxpayers of New Rochelle is Noam Bramson. Noam has received ten's of thousands of dollars from the major developers who sucked the life out of New Rochelle so is it any wonder Cappelli got 13 extensions for LeCount Square or Rattner got an extension for Echo Bay? Bramson received thousands from New Rochelle's INDEPENDENT auditor and now resists ethics reform proposed by St. Paul which would disallow such patronage. When you wake up and smell the coffee you will realize that if it looks like a duck, waddles like a duck and quacks like a duck IT'S A DUCK. If you drop a rock from your rooftop do you need to watch it hit the ground to believe it did?

Read the latest TOS story that cites Fevang as the ONLY "bad apple". I have a question for you after you have digested the story. Do you believe this could have gone on for 11-years without anyone else, either another city employee or private vendor, being involved???? Quack, Quack, it's a DUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!

Contrary to Bramson and his followers, everyone on this site gives a damn and wants New Rochelle to prosper.
Hope your Father's Day was pleasant.

Warren Gross on Mon, 06/20/2011 - 19:15
Title: tim

You make it tough on a guy who has always believed in innocent until proven guilty. I guess I better bone up on my constitution, theology, and whatever else i came to believe in during my life. Hope you are wrong. you think all bramson "followers" (meaning me i suppose) want the city to fail. tim, come on, get real. people who want this city to succeed are on this site, off this site, and the reverse is true. but, looks like God has given you a rare talent to "know" -- you are truly the king of innuendo, inference, and who knows what else. This is my last posting on this topic so have a field day at my expense. i really wish you well and want you to succeed and have a good life. best to you.

Robert Cox's picture
Robert Cox on Tue, 06/21/2011 - 17:44

Just to be clear, the presumption of innocence is a legal standard in a court room.

That standard is important but has no bearing on media coverage or two guys talking at a barber shop or a comment on a blog web site so appeals to some Constitutional standard of proof are disproportionate to the situation.

Timknows on Tue, 06/21/2011 - 10:46

MisterG, innocent til proven guilty is the law agreed, but let’s look at the most recent case of political BS until proven guilty; Anthony Weiner. Did you presume or believe his innocence before his confession and resignation? Thievery has flourished in New Rochelle for eleven –years and you want people to believe Fevang was acting by himself. Let’s say you are right. Fevang was so shrewd he pulled this off all by himself. That means Noam, Strome & Rattner at the very least must be incompetent and their resignations tendered once a plea-bargain or guilty plea is struck correct? Sorry I asked a question as you said you are done on this subject.

You and I could liquidate any real estate we own, cash in any stocks, bonds, insurance policies and include our life-savings; pool it together to increase our chances at power ball and have a better chance of hitting than anyone admitting the malfeasance that fostered this climate of pilfering.

In baseball, when the team tanks, the manager is the first one to go. If the shoe fits............

Political Forechecker's picture
Political Forec... on Sun, 06/19/2011 - 11:26

Bramson plays the ceremonial mayor whenever its time to hold him accountable for any of the City's problems.
He is strong behind the council controlling the votes and manipulating the results he favors.
Strome's job is to clean it all up so nobody Up in the North end gets too strong a wind of the Stink.
The City of New Rochelle has major problems and they won't get fixed under this type of Charter. Without a Mayor on the hook for what is going on they all just point fingers.
This system is not representing the people.
You are right its pay to play.
Even Strome can't find enough Air-wick to clean up the Stench.

Warren Gross on Tue, 06/21/2011 - 10:06

Even though I am a Bramson supporter and probably the only one on the site, i am working actively for Maisano and Trangucci. that makes me an independent.

That said, the purpose of this entry is to give recognition to bob cox for first class reporting; not on any editorializing which is his right, but on straight print fact gathering and followup.

Sadly for Cox and I, appears as if Keith Obermann has been resurrected. Just when I thought it couldn't get worse than Ed Schultz, along comes Obermann. Perhaps the letter O at the start of a name unless followed by an apostrophe like O'Malley, is a bad omen. again, well done bob cox

sokonuku (not verified) on Mon, 06/20/2011 - 20:07

YEAH RIGHT!

sokonuku (not verified) on Mon, 06/20/2011 - 09:07

This account has been suspended due to repeated violations of NO ALL CAPS policy.