The Westchester County District Attorney will convene a grand jury Tuesday May 10th in White Plains to consider filing charges against employees of the City of New Rochelle and equipment and service vendors doing business with the City, Talk of the Sound has learned. The Public Integrity Division of the DA's office has been investigating the New Rochelle Department of Public Works, a probe which has expanded to the New Rochelle Parks & Recreation Department and the City's Finance Department.
A series of "John Doe" subpoenas were received yesterday by numerous current and former City of New Rochelle employees including DPW workers and administrators direct them to appear in White Plains at 9 a.m. on May 10th. Also directed to appear is at least one person in the finance department, Mark Zulli who is the purchasing manager for the City which suggests the probe has now extended out of the City Yard and into City Hall and the Finance Department. Employees of a number of City vendors have also been ordered to appear.
Allegations against Fevang in this case first surfaced on Talk of the Sound in 2009. By 2010, City Council Member Lou Trangucci was delivering boxes of invoices and other DPW records to Janet Defiore's office and by July then-DWP Commission Jeff Coleman resigned, less than two weeks after DA investigators showed up in New Rochelle asking about a particular garbage truck related to a $12,000 invoice where no work was done on the truck by the vendor. Talk of the Sound broke the story of the DA investigation last September and has continued to lead the way on coverage of the ongoing public integrity investigation in New Rochelle.
According to sources familiar with the investigation, Fevang ran numerous schemes to defraud the City and enrich himself and his friends mostly involving steering business to companies which would provide gifts such as paid vacation trips to Florida or cash kickbacks. One such scheme involved a salesman named Bob Hamilton. From 1994 to 2002, Fevang reportedly directed $2mm in parts orders to Advance, the company Hamilton represented. In 2002, Hamilton changed jobs and went to work for Trius and all of the City's millions of dollars in parts business went with him. The going rate for kickbacks is 10-15% so the amounts involved with just this one line of business would be in the neighborhood of half a million dollars.
Another scheme involved a garbage truck services vendor called ARS with locations in the Bronx and New Jersey. Fevang would send trucks to the New Jersey locations, according to sources, rather than the Bronx to get a $70 part replaced involving a half hour of work; the City would be billed $7,000 to $10,000 per job with dozens of jobs a year being sent to New Jersey.
Still another scheme involves buying equipment from Gabrielli-Mack Truck. This is the company that reportedly paid for Fevang's vacations. The City School District of New Rochelle is another Fevang victim having been duped into paying $180,000 for a new garbage truck in 2009 that was worth only about $140,000.
Many of the garbage trucks purchased by Fevang came from Vasso Systems, Inc. in Brooklyn. Trucks purchased from Vasso include 5-year warranties but Fevang would routinely pay all labor costs on work that was under warrantee.
As purchasing manager for the City of New Rochelle Mark Zulli would be in a position to approve Fevang's highly questionable invoices. Sources at the Department of Public Works say that over the past five years, even this constraint was removed and Fevang was free to place orders without any need to obtain approvals.
"For the last four or five years he had carte blanche", said one insider. This same source says that former DPW Commissioner Jeff Coleman was repeatedly warned that Fevang was stealing money but failed to act.
Since Talk of the Sound first broke the New Rochelle DPW story, Fevang has been stripped of his authority to make purchases.