Your humblest correspondent sat down with the Journal News' star reporter and feature columnist, Phil Reisman, last week to discuss the massive amounts of fraud that resulted in the theft of hundreds of thousands of dollars from Rye Golf Club members over the last six years.
The first two segments of the interview chronicles events leading up to the discovery of the massively fraudulent actions of former RGC general manager Scott Yandrasevich–as determined by private investigators at Brune & Richard.
The conversation begins to heat up around and after the break at the 20 minute mark. Leading into, and coming out of the break at the 31:30 minute mark is more conversation about the current state of Rye City Manager Scott Pickup and the Rye City Council.
As club members and residents continue to struggle with a inherently dishonest and incompetent city manager–who remains in office at the will of a complicit city council, sans one Joe Sack–we'd like to thank Mr. Reisman for inviting us on his show, and for bringing more attention and awareness to the apparent high crimes committed at Rye Golf Club.
The Westchester County district attorney's office is ramping up its criminal investigation of the ex-manager of the Rye Golf Club, Scott Yandrasevich, who is accused of bilking the city of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Rye officials allege Yandrasevich and his wife, Anna, used RM Staffing and other "shell" companies they created to divert money intended to staff and to operate the club's restaurant into their own pockets. The city has turned over findings of a four-month investigation over to the DA's office, which is now weighing criminal charges against the Yandraseviches.
In the past two weeks, investigators from the DA's office have visited City Hall and the Golf Club several times, pulling financial and personnel records and interviewing city employees staff and others with knowledge of the city-owned club.
"They've been spending a lot of time at City Hall," said City manager Scott Pickup, who declined to say how many city employees had been interviewed or specifically what records investigators were seeking. "Sometimes they'll show up unannounced, other times they'll call us. We've been fully cooperating because we want to get this resolved as well."
From LD10580 - Investigators from Brune & Richard reported that City Mngr Scott Pickup understood he was lying to the public (in video above and on (pg. 16 of this report) when he said RM Staffing was "legal, above board" and vetted by the city's attorney. Mr. Pickup also approved over $4 million dollars worth of funds to RM Staffing over six years and withheld numerous damning documents from the public leading up to and through the investigation. Pickup was initially tabbed by Mayor French to conduct the investigation, but Brune & Richard was hired after club members demanded Pickup, who they did not trust, be removed.
A spokesman for the DA's office said prosecutors are reviewing materials from the city, but declined to comment.
Pickup said law and accounting firms hired by the city to assist with its investigation -- Brune & Richard LLP and Breen & Associates LLC -- are expected to unveil a final report on the golf club this week, which will include details about the Yandraseviches personal bank records and other documents that could help determine exactly how much money was stolen.
Mayor Doug French said city officials aren't sure exactly how much of the $7 million the city paid to RM staffing from 2006 to 2012 they will be seeking through litigation, but said it was conservatively more than $200,000. He said the city will also seek to recover upward of $300,000 in legal fees and other costs stemming from the investigation.
"We still don't have a final dollar figure," he said recently. "It's going to take some time to work that out."
Yandrasevich, 48, was placed on paid leave in October after he was accused by club members and city officials of misappropriating funds and having a conflict of interest. He resigned in January from his $106,080-per-year job and subsequently was kicked out of the clubhouse, where he had lived since 2002. Yandrasevich couldn't be reached for comment.
The investigation, conducted by the City Council, revealed that Yandrasevich's wife got a salary of $175,000 a year from RM staffing as a "bookkeeper" along with other payments. The couple used the money to buy boats and a new house in North Carolina, the report said. In 2010, she used an RM Staffing check to pay off $6,891 in personal debt, the probe stated.
What's more, Yandrasevich also allegedly used golf club staffers to expand RM Staffing's operations to restaurants at the Morris Yacht and Beach Club in the Bronx and at the Oak Hills Park Golf Course in Norwalk, Conn. in 2010 and 2012.
Yandrasevich ran the restaurant at Oak Hill Golf Course from late May until December, and didn't renew a sublease with the previous restaurant's operator and stopped providing catering services, according to a representative for the golf club who didn't want to be identified. The representative said Yandrasevich paid the rent on time and didn't have access to the club's operating funds, so they weren't concerned about a situation similar to the Rye Golf Club.
A representative for the Morris Yacht Club said RM Staffing is still managing the club's restaurant operations but added that the club hasn't encountered any issues with finances since Yandrasevich's company took over in October 2010.
Invoices submitted by Yandrasvich and staffing companies to Rye "lacked basic details" about services provided, according to the investigation. All told, the city paid more than $7.4 million to RM Staffing from April 2007 to Sept. 2012.
Meanwhile, the Yandraseviches refused to give pay raises to staff members they employed at the club's restaurant, even as they billed the city for three times the average $10 hourly wage that some waiting staff and others were being paid.
Rye's investigation found that other city employees were not involved in the scheme, but it faulted former and current city officials for not doing enough to verify the payments from the staffing company or question the club's finances.
The Rye Golf Club, which features an 18-hole golf course, pool and restaurant at Whitby Castle -- built as a private residence in 1852 -- has been owned by the city since 1965. Memberships to the club cost more than $4,500 a year, and the city collects more than $400,000 a year in revenue from its operations, including golf course and restaurant proceeds.
Rye TV Public Access Coordinator, Nicole Levitsky, says that she thinks Scott Pickup's, "bullshitting people at council meetings" is simply part of the City Manager's job. Ms. Levitsky, who's been employed by the City of Rye for more than 10 years (and receives an annual salary of $77,000 per year) also says the "bullshitting" of elected officials and residents at council meetings, unfortunately, happens "a lot."
Ms. Levitsky comments were recorded by former city staffer Andrew Dapolite, who taped the conversation with his former boss after city manager refused to release–or even acknowledge the existence of–a video of a fire department workshop meeting that Rye TV had recorded.
Pickup originally told the city council, untruthfully, that he "didn't have the ability" to videotape the meeting.
Mr. Pickup was finally forced to post the video, thirteen days later, after Dapolite informed Councilman Joe Sack that a video tape of the meeting did exist–contrary to Mr. Pickup's public statements.
COVER FOR YOUR BOSS UNTIL HE DECIDES WHAT TO DO
In the three-minute, unedited recording of the conversation between Dapolite and Levitsky, the Rye TV Department head also admits she asked Dapolite to lie, "Until Scott decided what he was going to do. Yeah, maybe it’s a little bit of covering up for your boss, until he figures out what he’s doing."
According to Levitsky, Mr. Pickup repeatedly rebuffed her offers to record the Fire Department workshop meeting, she tells Dapolite, "like three times I asked him before the meeting to tape it. I said you sure you don’t want us to tape it? We’re supposed to tape all Council Meetings."
Ms. Levitsky goes on to say City Manager Pickup did not want the meetings taped (although she did not know why). Thus, blaming the entire Dapolite Affair on Mr. Pickup.
RYE TV HEAD BLAMES PICKUP FOR DAPOLITE SCANDAL
Levitsky laments, "I feel like Scott put us in this position... I shouldn’t have asked- I shouldn’t have said that to you [to lie] but, at that point it was like, Scott doesn’t want to release that we have this video so what do we do?"
She continues, "I guess I could have–we could have, said ‘yes’ we have a video. And put it on the web... which would have completely screwed Scott."
CITY COUNCIL SITS BY AND DOES NOTHING
Possible mayoral candidates, Catherine Parker and Joe Sack, as well as Councilwomen Laura Brett and Julie Killian, have listened to this–and other incriminating tapes–made by Mr. Dapolite in his failed attempt to protect his job, and the truth.
To date, Ms. Brett and Ms. Killian, have said they do not condone lying by city officials. But, neither has taken a position of holding Mr. Pickup accountable for his actions and deceptions in Dapolite Matter alone.
Which could give the appearance of condoning lying.
Not to mention the silence of the council regarding Mr. Pickup's lies, as documented in the investigation that found hundreds of thousands of dollars were stolen from RGC. Or his most recent misleading and inaccurate statements to the council regarding the fraudulent police uniform bid that he and Police Commissioner, William Connors, recently recommended to the council.
The council is expected to meet in executive session at 6:30pm this evening before the regularly scheduled meeting to discuss "personnel matters related to the City Manager’s office."
Previous reports of the council "looking into" the statements captured on tape by Mr. Dapolite have been marred by accusations that council members, such as Deputy Mayor Peter Jovanovich, are not taking the matter seriously.
Mayor French, who has decided not to run for re-election, and Councilman Richard Filippi have publicly aligned themselves with the Deputy Mayor, evidenced by their comments at past council meetings.
Councilman Sack, the only elected official with the foresight to vote against the fraudulent police uniform bid–based on what he perceived as a possible conflict of interest–is the only council member who has shown an appetite to deal with the recurring theme of misleading and factually inaccurate statements from the city manager's office.
CITY MNGR WILL BLAME SCANDAL ON MAYOR FRENCH
Very shortly, LD10580 will release tapes of City Manager Pickup himself laying the blame for not taping the workshop meeting at the feet of Mayor Douglas H. French–who Pickup says did not want workshop meetings taped. Stay tuned, folks.
Here is the transcription of audio taped conversation above:
Andrew: I don’t- I don’t even know who to go to anymore because I would have felt that this was something I could have brought to your attention, but I have every reason to believe at this point that I honestly can’t, because I think your interest is…. you know to… not shed any negative light on Scott, regardless of whether he lies or bullshits people at Council Meetings, you know. I just–
Nicole: I think that’s a little bit part of the job is bullshitting people at Council Meetings unfortunately. I’m not saying that’s right, it’s wrong, but I think it goes on a lot.
Andrew: I just don’t think it’s right and in fact uh…
Andrew: You know, I signed my name when I took the job that I- you know there was an oath and you know, and the City Charter speaks to elected officials and employees and I just think that you know, this kind of stuff is, in light of everything that’s happening in the city right now, I just think it just doesn’t look good and it just isn’t morally right. So that’s sort of where I stand. You know what, the fact that I was asked to you know… how was I supposed to approach you with speculation that I had about the audio recording when I was told to lie to people that call up and I was told to not tell Joe Sack? That’s two lies, like I don’t know how I should trust. I just lost faith, I’m sorry, I just have no other way to put it.
And I think it’s a big deal. And, I’m not looking to get Scott in trouble or anything or you in trouble but—
Nicole: Well you just got me in trouble.
Andrew: I think you got yourself in trouble.
Nicole: I didn’t lower it on purpose.
Andrew: I was asked to lie about it.
Nicole: About lowering it?
Andrew: No, I was asked to lie to people who called up.
Nicole: About videotaping it? Until Scott decided what he was going to do. Yeah, maybe it’s a little bit of covering up for your boss, until he figures out what he’s doing. Because I don’t know what his… he doesn’t share with me his plan, or what he’s doing, or why.
I figured he had some way he was going to release it and then time was going on and he wasn’t releasing it, so …
Nicole: Do you realize that like three times I asked him before the meeting to tape it. I said you sure you don’t want us to tape it? We’re supposed to tape all Council Meetings.
Andrew: Right, no, I would say that you had good intentions up to the point of the meeting.
Nicole: I thought I did a good thing by recording it instead it’s like blown up in my face.
Andrew: I unders- No I understand that that you recorded it as a backup but I think asking, asking an employee of yours to lie I think that’s a completely different story. And I’m just not comfortable doing it. Especially given the fact that…
Andrew: I explained to you that I was getting calls from reporters which is one thing, I was getting calls from people which is another thing, I was getting calls from volunteer firefighters which is to me a totally separate thing. I mean, you know my relationship with the fire department, I have tremendous respect for everyone.
Andrew: And to have to lie to people…
Nicole: You’re Right, you’re right.
Andrew: Who have the interest of you know I just…
Nicole: I feel like Scott put us in this position, umm…
Andrew: Right, but I don’t think it’s–
Nicole: and I shouldn’t have asked- I shouldn’t have said that to you, but, at that point it was like, Scott doesn’t want to release that we have this video so what do we do?
I guess I could have, we could have, said ‘yes’ we have a video. And put it on the web.
Nicole: That’s, that’s the other option. I could have done that.
Nicole: Which would have completely screwed Scott.
Twin explosions ripped through Copley Square at 2:50 p.m. today, Patriot's Day, leaving the streets near the finish line of The Boston Marathon stained in blood; in what LausDeo first reported as a terrorist attack.
Perhaps Mayor Doug French should've tendered his resignation instead of simply sparing the city more airing of his dirty laundry this fall by not running for re-election. The miscreant mayor displayed his trademark combination of arrogance and ignorance at the March 20th City Council meeting, when he mocked Councilman Joe Sack for questioning the apparent conflict of interest of an auxiliary cop who had "some interest in" the company that submitted the lowest bid to provide uniforms to Rye Finest.
Twenty days later, Westchester County District Attorney, Janet DiFiore, announced the arrest of that auxiliary officer–who turned out to be the owner of New England Sportswear, the company that won the bid–for offering a false instrument for filing; and for criminal possession of a forged document.
DiFiore, who is not laughing, contends the defendant submitted a falsified letter from the uniform manufacturer saying they would provide a warranty for purchases for one year.
POLICE COMM CONNORS RECOMMENDED BOGUS BID
The bids, which were held up previously to allow more time for bidders to secure warranties, were coordinated by Rye Police Commissioner William R. Connors–who recommended the city council award the contract to his own auxiliary officer (who, if convicted, could face a maximum sentence of up to four years in state prison).
PICKUP & WILSON DIDN'T REVIEW RELATIONSHIP
City Manager Scott Pickup, who investigators determined lied during the recent inquisition into the theft of hundreds of thousands of dollars from Rye Golf Club–took Connors' recommendation to the council.
When questioned by Councilman Sack if there may be a conflict of interest, the city's attorney, Kristen Wilson noted the officer was a "essentially a volunteer for the city" who receives "no financial benefit" from the city. Therefore, she said, "I don't perceive that as being a conflict of interest."
When questioned further by Sack, Wilson admitted that she did not know (and apparently didn't bother to find out) what role the city volunteer had in the company, saying "Joe, I am not sure of the specifics of his role other than I was told he has an interest–a financial interest. I don't know the extent of it."
City Manager Pickup, who is in responsible for all bidding and purchasing for the city, sat by quietly shuffling through his papers as the city attorney flubbed her lines. If either Mr. Pickup, or Ms. Wilson, would have spent three seconds doing their jobs by vetting the company–by checking the Department of State web site, for example–they would have found the certificate of incorporation for New England Sportswear that showed their auxiliary officer actually owned the company.
Sack held firm saying, I don't think we can even afford to have this appearance [of a conflict of interest] based on the history that we've had."
CNCLWOMAN BRETT SEES 'NO PREFERENTIAL TREATMENT
Councilwoman Laura Brett–ignoring the lack of disclosure or information provided by the city manager and attorney–countered, "they are the low bidder in a competitive bid." She continued, "the question is whether he is being given preferential treatment... because we like him better because he's an auxiliary officer." Ms. Brett then finished her thoughts, "He's the low bidder, I don't think we are giving him preferential treatment."
CNCLWOMAN KILLIAN, 'I DON'T HAVE A PROBLEM' W/ BID
Councilwoman Julie Killian chimed in, "I think it's good that we discussed this, I just feel like we should move it forward. I don't have a problem with it."
Mr. Jovanovich then put forth, "I move that we approve the bid as proposed by the city manager and the corporation counsel."
The vote was 6-1, with Sack being the only council member voting not to award the bid. When the vote passed, Mayor French embodied every bit of his hypocritical calls for civility, by looking, and laughing, at Sack.
THE CURSE OF SCOTT PICKUP?
So, while RGC's Scott Yandrasevich has yet to even be questioned in the massive amount of fraud perpetrated against RGC, a volunteer officer has been charged with providing a fraudulent bid to William R. Connors and Scott D. Pickup.
Sure seems like lots of people who do business with Mr. Pickup lately end up either facing possible jail time, resigning from their jobs at the city, lying to the public, or looking like stooges on the dais.
See Mr. Yandrasevich, Dawn Nodarse (lied in NYS Supreme court affidavit), Nicole Levitsky, and six members of the Rye City Council not named Sack.
What will be next?
In a startling about face, embattled Rye City Manager, Scott Pickup, has identified former Rye Corporation Counsel–and now Westchester County Deputy Executive, Kevin Plunkett–as the attorney who vetted and approved of the relationship between disgraced former Rye Golf Club General Manager, Scott Yandrasevich, and RM Staffing & Events.
City Manager Pickup had the initial investigation into Rye Golf Club taken away from him even before it started, due to the public's outcry over a lack of confidence in his abilities and integrity. The City Council, in turn, hired high-powered Manhattan law firm Brune & Richard, who determined that "Mr. Yandrasevich controlled RM Staffing, and that, over a six-year period, he used RM Staffing and its affiliated business Studio Y to steal many hundreds of thousands of dollars from the City of Rye."
That same report documented that Rye City Manager, Scott D. Pickup, misled the public on Sept 27, 2012, when he–twice–said Rye's corporation counsel had reviewed Mr. Yandrasevich's relationship with RM Staffing.
Pickup told attendees at a video-taped public meeting, that corporation counsel had determined that Yandrasevich and RM Staffing were "all above board” and that there was "no conflict of interest."
INVESTIGATORS DETERMINE CITY MANAGER PICKUP LIED
Unfortunatlely for Mr. Pickup, the investigators also determined, and documented, that he "understood" he was lying when he said the city's attorney had vetted RM Staffing:
“Mr. Pickup further acknowledged that he understood at the time of the meeting that the Corporation Counsel had not reviewed or approved even the limited relationship with RM Staffing that Mr. Yandrasevich had disclosed at the meeting.1 When Mr. Pickup was asked during his interview why then he had stated during the meeting that the relationship between RM Staffing and Mr. Yandrasevich had been “reviewed” and was “all above board,” Mr. Pickup stated that he was trying “to calm everyone down.” - (Pg. 16)
1-Current Corporation Counsel Kristen Wilson stated during her interview that she did not review or approve the relationship between RGC or Mr. Yandrasevich and RM Staffing.
CORNERED CITY MGR CHANGES STORY, FINGERS PLUNKETT
Now, the controversial Mr. Pickup is recanting (or revising) what he told the investigators at Brune & Richard–telling LD10580 that it was actually the city's former corporation counsel, Deputy County Executive, Kevin Plunkett, who reviewed and "vetted" the relationship that resulted in the largest theft of funds by a city employee in Rye's 353 year history.
Pickup and Plunkett worked together from 2005 to 2009, when Plunket was the city's attorney and Pickup was the assistant city manager to dishonorably discharged former city manager O.P Shew.
BIRDS OF A FEATHER
So serious was the RGC matter, that Rye Mayor Douglas French(R) dubbed the scandal Rye's Madoff Moment. Ironically, Mayor French himself was forced to pay over $16,000 in restitution to the county last year for a decade's worth of improper school tax exemptions he received on an illegal investment property he owned in Rye for 20 years. French is also Pickup's greatest ally on the city council.
Rye's current corporation counsel, Kristen Wilson, of Harris Beach LLP, immediately contradicted Pickup's initial claims about her vetting RM Staffing, telling the LoHud's Leah Rae (10/10/12 JN) that she absolutely did not vet the relationship between Yandrasevich and RM Staffing.
When we recently asked Mr. Pickup to explain his bodacious misrepresentation of the facts into a matter as grave as the theft of hundreds of thousands of dollars from RGC, Mr. Pickup wrote:
“The prior review of agency staffing at RGC (vetted by former corp. counsel) obviously was not the only issue in the discussion that evening, and as we have all discovered, the depth of the problems at RGC are complicated.” -3.19.13 SDP
PICKUP LIED TO PRESS BEFORE LIED TO PUBLIC
To make matters worse, Pickup told investigators the reason he lied to the public was, "to calm everyone down." However, on Sept 20th–one week before he told told his public lie–Chris Falcone of the Rye Sound Shore Review reported that Pickup told him Rye's corporation council had vetted RM Staffing. This would appear to establish that Mr. Pickup's deception was not at the spur of the moment, but rather premeditated, calculated and repeated in multiple venues, multiple times.
Yet, Mr. Pickup continues to serve as Rye's city manager due to the staunch support and blind eyes by Mayor Doug French (R), Deputy Mayor Peter Jovanovich (R) and Councilman Richard Fillippi (?).
Councilwomen Laura Brett (R) and Julie Killian (R), pictured above, have shown growing concern regarding the city manager's actions, but neither has acted in a meaningful way with the weight of their office to hold Mr. Pickup accountable for any of his actions.
Council members Joe Sack (R) and Catherine Parker (I) have each publicly displayed dissatisfaction with Mr. Pickup's past actions regarding RGC and the city's other huge scandal, the Dapolite Matter–the refusal of a young city employee to lie to elected officials and withhold a recording of a public meeting from the public against Pickup's desires.
Recently released recorded conversations between Dapolite and city officials–including Mr. Pickup himself–make it crystal clear that Pickup–with the help of Rye TV Public Access Coordinator, Nicole Levitsky, deceived the council and the public for weeks in that matter.
At the time of this post, LD10580 had not received comment from the Westchester Deputy County Executive's office in regards to this report.
Originally posted by Laus Deo on April 07, 2013
As explosive events continue to rock the tony City of Rye, Mayor Doug French has announced he will not seek office in Nov. The news comes in the wake of the discovery of massive amounts of theft and fraud at Rye Golf Club. And, The Dapolite Matter, a young city staffer whose calls for help went unanswered after he refused to lie and conceal a public record for scandal-plagued City Manager, Scott Pickup. More@Rye Record.
As reported by Elizabeth Ganga of The Journal News:
Declaring that Playland Amusement Park will die without reinvention, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino has announced a 10-year asset-management agreement with the nonprofit Sustainable Playland to operate the historic amusement park and surrounding parkland.
The agreement comes with a second 10-year option and would bring $34 million in new investments to the park. Sustainable Playland would also pay the county $4 million upfront and an annual payment estimated to reach $1.2 million once the new plan for the park is fully operational.
If you are bold enough and dishonest enough to lie repeatedly to the very public you serve (in a matter as grave as the theft of hundreds of thousands of dollars) and you are not punished in any way, shape, or form by those who employ you–why would you stop?
If you're the Rye City Manager, Scott Pickup, the answer is... you wouldn't. So, Mr. Pickup–with a wink and a nod from the Rye City Council–simply continues to lie, unabashedly, to the taxpayers who foot his $177,000 per year salary.
Despite being just an advisory board, the Rye Golf Club Commission voiced their displeasure with Mr. Pickup (who investigators from Brune & Richard determined knowingly lied when he said the city attorney vetted RM Staffing) by issuing the fibbing city manager a vote of no confidence.
FIVE HAVE NO FATH, THREE BELIEVE
Commissioners Chris O'Brien, Angela Sposato, John Duffy, Charlie Davies and T.J. Hanson all voted no faith in the truth-challenged Mr. Pickup.
Commissioners Frank Adimari, Pat Dooley and Pat Geoghegan all decided against a vote of no confidence. Commissioner Arthur Tiederman was not present during the tally.
The soft-spoken Commissioner Davies characterized Mr. Pickup's actions (which included ignoring a 2010 auditor's report that detailed deficiencies in bidding for staffing and a lack of cash controls in the catering operation) as "indefensible."
Commissioner Sposato said, "He lied to us. I don't have any confidence in him because he's done nothing to build that confidence right now."
Commissioner Adimari (left in vest), the longest tenured commissioner and a long-time member of the much criticized Finance Committee said, "I think there were problems but don't think I can give a vote of confidence right now."
Commissioner Dooley (above in tie), an attorney by trade, questioned whether the vote was appropriate and indicated that there was plenty of blame to go around amongst past commissioners, city council members and city managers–an argument previously articulated by Mayor Doug French and Deputy Mayor Peter Jovanovich.
PICKUP APPROVED 70% OF FUNDS TO RM STAFFING
However, according to records released in conjunction with the $300K RGC investigation, City Manager Pickup approved approximately 70% of the $7.2 million paid to RM Staffing; City Managers Frank Culross and O.P. Shew approved 6%; and Police Commissioner, William Connors– inexplicably–approved 3% of funds paid to RM. Plus, in 2009, Mr. Culross alerted auditor's to the fact Anna Yandrasevich may have had a conflict of interest in RM.
Commissioner Geoghegan (right), who did not support the no confidence vote, began saying, "If the SEC couldn't find Bernie Madoff..." before she was drowned out by members.
MORE LIES FROM A DEMONSTRATED LIAR
Only moments after the vote of no confidence in Scott Pickup was carried 5-3 at Whitby Castle, Mr. Pickup would lie yet again from his perch at the dais at City Hall regarding the recent activities at RGC.
When asked if the RGC catering invoices (that were lawfully requested over 280 days ago) were copied onto a disk that was handed to your humblest correspondent by City Attorney Kristen Wilson only moments earlier, Mr. Pickup responded, "My understanding is that they are there."
An interesting choice of words for the city manager who "understood"–according to investigators– that the city attorney did not vet RM Staffing when he said she did.
Those documents absolutely were not on that disk, which proves one thing beyond a shadow of a doubt, Mr. Pickup is an unadulterated liar.
THE RYE CITY COUNCIL, YOU GET WHAT YOU DESERVE
Mr. Pickup serves at the leisure of the Rye City Council. Three members of that council have thrown their full weight behind the dishonest representations of Scott Pickup: Doug French, Peter Jovanovich and Richard Filippi–all three are up for election this November.
Council member Julie Killian (also up for election this November) has, at this point remarkably, avoided weighing in on the embattled Mr. Pickup thus far–Ms. Killian's seat is also up for election in November.
Councilwoman Brett has danced and stuttered stepped between approval and disapproval of Mr. Pickup's actions in the past, and has also avoided clear statements of conviction regarding Mr. Pickup's behavior in all things from RGC to The Dapolite Matter.
Coincil members Sack and Parker have both indicated varying levels of disapproval in the city manager in the past and more recent present. Each is considered to be contemplating a run a the mayor's office in November as well.
THE DAPOLITE TAPES: DapoliteLevitsky_Studio(A) 020812
This Wednesday night, the Rye City Council, which says it does not condone the city manager lying to the public, will vote to create legislation to help camouflage one of the biggest lies and disgraces ever orchestrated by City Manger Scott Pickup–the concelament of a public record, and the termination of a young City of Rye employee's career who dared to challenge him by telling the truth.
In the four-minute, uneditied, Rye TV Studio recording clip above, Andrew Dapolite, former Rye TV prodcution coordinator, and Nicole Levitsky, the head of Rye TV, discuss and deal with the reality of the work situation they'd been placed in by Mr. Pickup. It had been 13 days since Scott Pickup lied to the city council, on camera, telling the elected officials of Rye he didn't have the ability to film a controversial Fire Dept workshop meeting because he didn't have the staff available.
PICKUP LIED. TRUST DIED.
The only probelm is, Levitsky and Dapolite–the only two members of a two member department–were in the control room at City Hall that night, and did record the meeting.
On a previously released phone call recording, Levitsky tells Dapolite that City Manager Pickup actually told her not to record the workshop meeting, despite existing resolutions requiring they do, and despite the specific requests of numerous council members to record it. Levitsky even tells Dapolite that Rye's truth-challenged city manager became "annoyed" in the days leading up to the meeting for her repeatedly asking him if he was sure she should not record the meeting–which Levitsky recorded anyway.
In the conversation above, and in previous recordings, Levitsky tells Dapolite she made Pickup aware of the recording the very same night she recorded it–saying, however, Pickup then refused to release it.
Faced with the fact that her boss would not release the recording, Ms. Levitsky began lying to residents of Rye who called up looking for the video–as caught on tape here–and instructed the 22-yr old Mr. Dapolite to do the same.
PICKUP IGNORED EMPLOYEE'S EMAIL
Dapolite refused to lie. Instead, two days after the meeting, he emailed Levitisky and Pickup regarding his concerns. A weeks time had passed with no response from Pickup to his email, so Dapolite informed Councilman Sack a recording of the meeting existed. Sack visited Pickup and insisted he post the video.
After Dapolite discovered Levitsky had "played" with the audio to the posted video, lowering it 7 decibels to make it seem like a less-than-broadcast quality video, he wrote a letter to the City Council detailing the weeks of dishonesty and "deception" he'd witnessed.
A FORESHADOWING OF PICKUP'S BIG RM STAFFING LIE
Like Rye Golf Club, the council simply refused to investigate the allegations, and Mr. Pickup. The council's unwillingness to confront Pickup would come back to bite the citizens of Rye, as Mr. Pickup would be caught lying in public again, months later, in an attempt to thwart an investigation into RGC and RM Staffing.
The recording leaves no doubt that Levitsky instructed Dapolite to lie–she apologizes to him when he reminds her, "I was aked by you to tell people we have no recording."
"Well, I'm sorry about that," says Levitsky. She also acknowledges in the affirmative that Pickup is 'full of crap,' that he never responded to Dapolite's email, that Pickup did not want these meetings taped, that he refused to release it, and that no part-time voluteers at Rye TV were ever asked to film these meetings.
In other words, staff availability is not the issue–Scott Pickup is.
And if staff availability were an issue, the council should first request that Ms. Levitsky–who is paid $77,000/yr–immediately stop performing work outside of her scope of employment, like filming School Board Meetings. According to the city charter CONFLICT OF INTEREST clause, no city employee shall engage in any business or activity which might conflict with the proper discharge of her duties in the public interest.
THE CITY COUNCIL'S SHAMEFUL CHARADE
Yet, Wednesday night, the tone-deaf City Council will continue it's poorly veiled charade, by voting on a resolution to hire outside videographers–at added expense to taxpayers of course–to shoot meetings when Rye TV staff are unavailable. Even though staff was ordered not to tape meetings by Pickup, and volunteers were never asked.
Mayor "Illegal Tax Reductions" French, Deputy Mayor "Municipal Porn" Jovanovich and Councilman Richard "Shakedown" Filippi have all refused to listen to these tapes–Jovanovich and Filippi have instead attacked Dapolite for making the recordings.
Council members Laura Brett, Catherine Parker and Joe Sack have publicly stated they listened to the tapes. Councilwoman Julie Killian has not shared with the public whether she has listened to the tapes or not. Sack is, seemingly, the only one willing to challenge the audacity of the city manager with the full weight of his office.
THE CITY OF SCOTT PICKUP–A CITY OF LIES
In their $300,000 report, RGC investigators documented that Scott Pickup lied to the public–in an effort to thwart an investigation into the largest theft of money by a city employee in the history of Rye. When challenged by RGC members that night, the city manager did what he does best, he retaliated by branding the golf club members an angry mob.
So far, Rye's Bernie Madoff has walked, Scott Pickup has remained–while three Rye City council members have been undressed as morally corrupt–and three others now prevaricate endlessly as their search to avoid the truth further exposes their own lack of courage and ignorance of duty.
More studio recordings, chronicling more deception by City Manger Scott Pickup to follow.
THE DAPOLITE TAPES: RyeTV_Resident Call 012612
City Manager Scott Pickup has no problem lying to the public, in public. Attorneys from Brune & Richard–who investigated the largest theft of money by a city employee in Rye's history–documented in their findings, that Mr. Pickup lied to the public at Whitby Castle on Sept. 27, 2012 (above), when he said the city's attorney vetted RM Staffing. Mr. Pickup also famously said there, "is no conflict of interest," that night, as well–it only took five months and $300K to prove that was a lie too.
Mr. Pickup learned to tell such audacious lies with practice–and with no threat of consequences. On Jan. 25, 2012, Scott Pickup lied to every elected official on Rye's City Council, when he told them he didn't have the ability to record a controversial Fire Dept. workshop meeting earlier that evening.
The lie? Nicole Levitsky, Rye TV's Access Coordinator, was able and willing to record the meeting and, in fact, did record the meeting–as witnessed by her then-assistant Andrew Dapolite, who was ready and willing as well.
Mr. Pickup–who we've learned actually instructed Ms. Levitsky not to record the meeting–discovered his instructions were disobeyed the same night the meeting was recorded. Even so, Mr. Pickup refused to release the recording, or even acknowledge its existence.
So, Ms. Levitsky did what any good employee, or anyone who feared losing their paycheck might do, she began lying for Mr. Pickup–as evidenced by the phone conversation above, in which she tells a Rye resident there is no videotape of the meeting she videotaped.
In the two days that followed, I received phone calls from residents and members of the local press, as well as volunteer firefighters asking if Rye TV recorded the workshop. Ms. Levitsky instructed me to respond to such inquires by stating “Rye TV did not record the meeting,” and she told me specifically not to tell Councilman Joe Sack, who was absent from the meeting, that a videotape recording existed.
I believe if I were to obey Ms. Levitsky’s request, I would be in conflict with the City of Rye Code of Ethics 15-10, which forbids employees to conduct themselves in an improper way due to another’s position or rank. And honestly, I did not want to lie to my friends and the people in my community.
I was surprised to learn from Ms. Levitsky’s response to my January 27th email, that City Manager Pickup “knows full well there is a recording”. Ms. Levitsky explained to me later that day that Mr. Pickup did not want the recording released.
At Ms. Levitsky’s suggestion, I forwarded her email response to Mr. Pickup and asked him to verify how the situation should be addressed, as I remained uncomfortable lying to public officials, residents and volunteer firefighters. Mr. Pickup did not answer my email or contact me in any way (see attached emails) even though, through subsequent conversations with Ms. Levitsky, it was apparent that she and Mr. Pickup had discussed my concerns. -Former Rye City Employee, Andrew Dapolite 2/13/12
We caught up with Rye PBA President, Franco Compagnone, on Purchase Street last Saturday during the RPD's "Informational Protest." The protest was designed to heighten awareness among Rye's taxpayers to the ongoing struggles encountered by the force in dealing with city administrators over the past 4 years–in which the police have gone without a contract.
In an eye-opening interview, officer Compagnone said, due to deep departmental cuts and scheduling failures, nearly 75% of the city's officers currently do not meet NYS first responder training requirements–or have certifications that will expire soon.
SCHOOL SAFETY AND SECURITY
Officer Compagnone shed light on school safety and security as well–saying his membership "have been kept in the dark" on the issue. He criticized City Manager Scott Pickup for his plan to insert three unarmed, untrained, unfamiliar "part-timers" in and amongst Rye's school children–instead of calling upon Rye's finest, some of which live in the community and have children in the schools.
SALARIES AND BENEFITS
Of course, contract negotiations were a topic of conversation. Officer Compagnone touched on salaries, highlighting that cops in surrounding communities are paid on average 15% more than Rye's finest. Regarding benefits, he explained that two-thirds of the force pay into their benefits and that the remaining third–grandfathered in during the 1990's–do not. He also spoke about pre-existing conditions, saying they are covered under the current policy–but that the city was unwilling to guarantee they would continued to be covered if the union transitions to a new provider.
CITY PAYS $300,000 IN LEGAL FEES–STILL NO CONTRACT
Officer Compagnone also lamented the fact that the city has paid over $300,000 to high-powered labor attorney, Vincent Toomey, to represent the city in the prolonged contract dispute–questioning the wisdom of paying exuberant attorneys fees when paying police would cost far less. "For 2009 and '10 it would have cost the city $35,000 to settle our contract." he said.
To make matters worse, it has recently been discovered that the city's high-priced labor attorney, Vincent Toomey, has a long-standing relationship with Rye Police Commissioner William Connors–having hired, or recommended the hiring of, Mr. Connors to conduct investigations for the muncipality of Southampton–as far back as 2005. View the Village of Southampton resolution here.
Two weeks ago, City Manager Pickup was asked if he was aware of a working relationship between Mr. Toomey and Mr. Connors to which he replied, "The Police Commissioner has consulted outside of his official duties in Rye in numerous communities. I am not aware of any situation where this would have triggered a conflict of interest concern with the City of Rye."
That statement sounds eerily familiar to the initial comments made by Mr. Pickup regarding the recent multi-million dollar RGC scandal. Mr. Pickup did refrain, however, from asserting that the city attorney vetted the relationship between William Connors and Vincent Toomey.
CITY NOT BEING TRUTHFUL?
Finally, Compagnone lamented, "Who is making these decisions? That's the problem. The person making these decisions should be removed." He continued, "He [Pickup] sits at the table, tries to sell us a doomsday scenario, and then in the same breath, Doug French, quoted here says, 'For the fourth year in a row the city has delivered a solid budget, keeps taxes low... there are two different messages being delivered here."
Officer Compagnone said he thought Mr. Pickup should be more truthful with the city council and the Rye taxpayers. At the end of the interview, when asked how Pickup could be more truthful or transparent, the officer thought for a moment and simply stated, "I don't think Scott Pickup can be transparent or truthful."
Practice makes perfect. Long before City Manager Scott Pickup was fingered by investigators for deceiving the entire Rye community regarding the vetting of RM Staffing, the heavily damaged CEO of our government infamously looked each elected Rye city official in the eye, and lied to them, as well.
Mr. Pickup's alleged sin? Concealing a public record from Rye's elected offcials, and from her citizens.
At the time, only one person stood up to the man who holds the office that our entire form of government is built upon. That 22-yr old city employee, born and raised in Rye, didn't have a golf club behind him.
Mayor French and his city council, with a majority of support from Mr. Jovanovich, Mr. Filippi and Suzanna Keith, chose to protect the city manager by refusing to investigate these claims in 2011–the same way they refused to investigate RGC–until members forced them to do.
That employee paid for his honesty and willingness to defend the truth with his job. And his reputation. The taxpayers paid $20,000 or so to defend Mr. Pickup for a retaliatory reprimand he served against his accuser; a reprimand that was eventually dropped.
Despite a nine-page detailed complaint, and the emergence of the recording that Mr. Pickup said did not exist 13 days earlier, Mr. Pickup and his alleged accomplice–Rye TV department head, Nicole Levitsky–to this day, have never been asked to answer even a single question regarding the allegations.
MR. PICKUP COULD BE YOUR CHILD'S BOSS
Andrew was, and is, a child of Rye. He could be your son or your daughter. Should your children work for the city, all Rye parents should know–based on these tapes and the RGC investigator's report–that your child may sooner or later be backed into a very untenable position by a serial deceiver, or their boss, Scott D. Pickup.
If they lie for Mr. Pickup, they become like him: dishonest, callous, and guilty of stealing the truth from us all. If they don't, they just may lose their jobs–or even worse, their aspirations or reputations.
No honest person should have to work in an organization or an environment like that.
The first tape recorded conversation of RTV Public Access Coordinator, Nicole Levitsky, and now-former city emolyee Andrew Dapolite–who began recording Ms. Levitsky when it became obvious he should fear for the truth and his job–can be heard here.
These numbers would seem to blow a gigantic hole in Mayor French's and Deputy Mayor Jovanovich's thinly veiled, disingenuous argument that there are soooo many city managers, and others, to blame.
APROVED BY AMOUNT PERCENTAGE
Scott D. Pickup $5,200,000 70%
(Asst City Mngr and City Manager 2005 -present)
O. Paul Shew $477,000 6%
(City Manager 2003-09)
Frank J. Culross $480,000 6%
(Interim City Mngr, 2009-10, after Shew fired)
William R. Connors $250,000 3%
(Police Commissioner 2001-present)
*Approximately $1,000,000 in purchase orders for RM Staffing are unaccounted for. These figures were taken from Exhibit-3 of the council's own RGC report.
SCOTT D. PICKUP
A classic French (and Pickup) tactic is to tell untruths, or half-truths. For example, Pickup said on 9/27/12 at Whitby Castle, that auditors reviewed the arrangement with RM Staffing. That much was true, but Pickup failed to disclose that (in their 2009 report) auditors red-flagged the fact there were no contracts–and no bidding process in place–for staffing services, specifically.
Pickup also failed to tell everyone that the auditor's personally told him of deficiencies in inventory and cash controls at Whitby Castle during his first ever council meeting as Rye's city manager (video here).
Finally, Mr. Pickup broke the public trust again that evening, when he said the city's attorney vetted RM Staffing–twice. That fact (or lie) is memorialized forever in the council's own report, which says Mr. Pickup "understood" when he said it, it was not true.
Mr. Pickup, as city manager–and with a weak, or interim only, club manager–is still the person responsible for making all decisions regarding the operations of RGC.
O. PAUL SHEW
The truth is, there wasn't a slew of city managers responsible for RM Staffing. There was only one other full time city manager during RM's reign at RGC–his name was O. Paul Shew.
Mr. Shew was himself unceremoniously removed from office–or fired–in 2009, for his "failure to communicate and carry out assignments." Pickup was Shew's understudy for five years, before being promoted to city manager by: Doug French, Peter Jovanovich, Joe Sack, Richard Filippi, Catherine Parker, Suzanna Keith and Paula Gamache.
O. Paul Shew approved $477,000, or 6% of all funds to RM Staffing. Scott Pickup approved $5.2 million, or 70% of all funds to RM Staffing.
FRANK J. CULROSS
Frank Culross, a former long-time and trusted city manager in Rye, was called back into action to temporarily fill in for Shew in 2009. Mr. Culross, in an interim position, approved 6% of all funds to RM Staffing.
According to investigators, Mr. Culross is the only city official that spoke up against RM Staffing, "...in early 2010 former City Manager Frank Culross expressed a concern to the City’s outside auditors regarding a potential ownership relationship between Mr. Yandrasevich’s wife and RM Staffing." See pg. 16 of the report.
WILLIAM R. CONNORS
Inexcplicably, Rye's Police Commissioner, William R. Connors also approved $250,000 in funds to RM Staffing. However, there is no language in the City Charter that grants such power to the police commissioner.
A FOIL request for all documents naming Mr. Connors an acting, or interim, city manager came back from the city with nada. There is not a single resolution, memo or even an email from Mr. Pickup to the city council authorizing William R. Connors to act as the city manager, or to approve purchases for the City of Rye.
City Manager Pickup is also on record in the October 10, 2012, City Council meeting saying there was an "active", on-gong police investigation into RGC. That story changed–on December 12, 2012–to the police were just "notified." See the video.
As noted above, there is about $1,000,000 in purchase orders to RM Staffing that remain unaccounted for.
RGC THEFT PROBE CREATES QUESTIONS, SUSPICIONS Journal News Article
CHAIRMAN, VICE CHAIR, 3RD MEMBER OF STRATEGIC RFP COMMITTEE RESIGN IN WAKE OF COUNCIL MTNG CRITICISM
OAK HILLS GOLFERS: INVESTIGATE VETTING OF RM STAFFING CONTRACT... "The now infamous “hang up” phone call when I tried to inquire as to the nature and experience of the business [RM] should have been enough of a red flag..." Read More
After a five-month long $278,000 investigation, and promises to restore the public's faith in government, the City of Rye released its 17-page final RGC Report merely hours before last night's city council meeting.
The released report did not include the 67 Exhibits that were attached, which only found there way onto the city website after the scheduled RGC Commission Meeting and City Council Executive Session were underway.
At the council meeting Mayor French, Deputy Mayor Jovanovich–and the city council as a whole it appears, sans Councilman Sack–have taken the stance that nobody in the city government should be held accountable for Mr. Yandasevich's ability to steal 'many hundreds of thousands of dollars.'
Deputy Mayor Jovanovich provided the best defense of Scott Yandrasevich since City Manager Scott Pickup lied to the public–according to the findings of the investigators and the council's report–in defense of Mr. Yandrasevich and RM Staffing at Whitby Castle on September 27, 2012.
Mr. Yandrasevich's lawyers–who may be preparing for a possible indictment from the Westchester County DA–have certainly studied City Manager Pickup's ardent "its all legal and above board defense" of their client; are sure to be interested in Mr. Jovanovich's "it's everyone's fault" line of defense, as well.
Public records show Mr. Pickup was personally responsible for approving over $4 million in funds to RM Staffing, signing off on his first purchase order for RM as the assistant city manager only two months after the company began working at RGC in 2007.
While the elected city officials of Rye position themselves to surround and protect "Bernie Madoff's" direct supervisor, Scott D. Pickup–who still makes all final decisions on all how RGC is run–we will go through the findings and exhibits and report further.