NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- Over the years, Aramark granted six district employees exclusive access to private offices in the City School District of New Rochelle. These offices, four at New Rochelle High School and two at Grove Street, are hidden in plain sight. Administration officials, security officers and custodians do not have keys to access these offices which are secured by special locks that cannot be opened with the master keys for each building.
The "private" offices are used primarily to hide out during the workday and avoid working during regular hours. But they are used for much more: sleeping, smoking within a school building, surfing the web, watching television, manufacturing bullets, viewing child pornography, storing handguns, rifles and shotguns and more. One office has cable television, another has radiant heating built into the floors, some have refrigerators, others have couches and stereo systems.
The most important feature of these tax-payer funded sanctums is that they are strictly off-limits to everyone except the lucky six employees who each hold a special key to their private space on school property.
The lucky six key holders will be familiar to Talk of the Sound readers as among the ne'er do wells who have been robbing the district blind for years.
At Grove Street, home to the District's Buildings department, there are two sealed offices on the second floor controlled by two individuals who have not reported to work for months.
Scott Empara, the Electrician Working-Foreman, has been out on disability for 7 months. He went on leave after he was suspended, then referred for psychological testing after reportedly threatening to kill people (including this reporter), sources say. Empara spent much of his day behind locked doors manufacturing bullets.
Anthony Raffa, plumber, was caught driving around to no purpose during the workday with Jimmy Bonanno (senior) where alcohol was reportedly involved. Raffa was suspended as a result then retired last September.
During a recent tour of the Grove Street facility, Arturo Riviera of Aramark told Assistant Superintendent for Business & Administration Jeff White he could not enter either office because there was no key to open them.
At New Rochelle High School, there are four private offices. One locked room is controlled by Werner Graefe, the locksmith. He has an entire locksmith shop. For years, he and his father, Edward Graefe, ran their private locksmithing business out of the high school. The elder Graefe owned Jacob's Lock in New Rochelle; the younger Graefe owns Schimolers Locksmith in Mount Vernon. Michael Matisse, the mason, controlled two locked rooms -- a room within a room. He has been the most inventive employee, converting an elevator access room into a workshop then building a small room within that room, even splitting off a cable TV line near the Planetarium, drilling holes in the brick facing on the bridge leading to the new wing. Matisse, for years, worked out-of-job-title as a plumber, racking up large amounts of overtime with Raffa, sleeping during the day on the couch in his office then working at night on Honeywell project. Frank Merigliano, the HVAC mechanic who succeeded the infamous Vito Costa and Anthony Newman, a glazier, who has no idea how to cut glass control the other two locked rooms. Newman was the subject of a hearing after he allegedly groped a female employee.