EDITOR’S NOTE: Dr. Joseph issued a public statement on his personal web site stating that the Journal News article inaccurately reported on his testimony in the case and that concerns expressed by Talk of the Sound were unfounded. Readers may also wish to read: Farewell, Dr. Joseph — New Rochelle Says Goodbye to a Principal Who Made a Difference in Many Lives
There is apparently some notion out there within the school district that because Dr. Yigal Joseph testified as a prosecution witness in last week’s federal corruption trial that this somehow an indication that he did not do anything wrong. As far as we know, Dr. Joseph continues to be employed by the District and is responsible for hundreds of students and staff – and large sums of money. I would ask that readers review this post and weigh in on whether that makes any sense to them in light of the documents below.
If there is an innocent explanation for all this, New Rochelle residents, taxpayers and most importantly parents of students at Columbus have a right to hear it. We all have a right to ask tough questions and get meaningful answers. Someone in the leadership needs to provide some compelling reason to retain Dr. Joseph. What is not acceptable is for the District to hide behind the old “isolated incident” + “executive session” + “privacy” claims. Dr. Joseph is in one of the top positions in New Rochelle, he is paid a lot of money, he has been entrusted with a great deal of responsibility. About the most charitable conclusion one can draw is that Dr. Joseph is an extremely poor judge of character with some highly questionable past associations.
If there is no innocent explanation then more questions will follow – who referred him to New Rochelle, who interviewed him for his current position, who did the background check, was the District aware of his involvement with Micros Only, did he disclose his association with Micros Only when he applied to work for the District, did he tell the District that he would be testifying in the case, did he tell anyone about his testimony after he gave, why did he testify under oath that he was not paid by Micros Only?
Here is what we do know, that Dr. Joseph’s involvement in Micros Only occurred while he was employed by the City School District of New Rochelle. Joseph’s start date with the District is September 1, 1999. His involvement with Micros Only took place in 1999-2000. So, the idea that this was all part of some long-buried past does not hold water either. Joseph was paid $148,715 in 2007-08.
We did a little poking around and came up with the U.S. Government Trial Memorandum which outlined the case against Constance Post, the former Commissioner of the Mount Vernon Department of Planning and Community Development and her pal Wayne Charles.
At this time, we do not have any documents that indicate that Dr. Jopseh was compelled to testify (we are working on that) but I would direct readers to the Trial Memorandum for United States of America v. Constance G. Post a/k/a “Gerri Post” and Wayne Charles on the subject of witnesses. It should make it clear that the U.S. Attorney did not pull Dr. Joseph’s name out of a hat. Dr. Joseph needs to produce a letter from the U.S. Attorney that makes clear why he testified and under what condition.
The Government intends to call a number of witnesses who are either related to defendant Wayne Charles or otherwise identified or aligned with him as friends or business-related associates. A number of these witnesses have indicated that they will not testify unless compelled to do so. Based on past conversations with a number of witnesses, it is anticipated that some may refuse to meet with the Government prior to trial. It is also anticipated that, when called to testify, one or more of these witnesses may demonstrate hostility toward the Government as evidenced by demeanor or attitude, or by the failure to provide responsive answers to questions.
The Trial Memorandum lays out the case against Constance Post and Wayne Charles and provides some explanation as to why Dr. Joseph testified in the case:
This case arises out of the alleged corrupt relationship between the defendants, Constance G. Post, the former Commissioner of the Mount Vernon Department of Planning and Community Development (“MVCPD”) and the Executive Director of the Mount Vernon Department of Planning and Urban Renewal Agency (“MVURA”), and her associate Wayne Charles. The Government anticipates that the proof will show that the defendants corruptly conspired and agreed to deprive the City of Mount Vernon (“the City” or “Mount Vernon”) of the right to Post’s honest services and deprive Mount Vernon and the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) of money and property. The proof will show that the defendants took affirmative steps to conceal their corrupt relationship from the City and HUD and that the Post steered Charles millions of dollars in contracts and benefits through acts of concealment and false statements.
Post steered a lucrative computer services contract to Charles, who had no previous experience in the computer field, no skills and no employees, through an entity known as “Micros Only”.
Dr. Joseph’s connection to the case began with his connection to Yvonne Young.
When asked what initiated DANTE BROWN (MICROS ONLY) to respond to the RFP, CHARLES explained that a group of people were having dinner at a restaurant. In attendance at the dinner were CHARLES, POST, DANTE BROWN, THOMAS TERRY, TAMMY TERRY and KEN CHANG. CHARLES add that CHANG had invited POST to the dinner. During the dinner POST was speaking with DANTE BROWN and asked him what type of work he did. DANTE BROWN had told POST that MICROS ONLY does computer work. POST advised DANTE BROWN that they were going to be issuing an RFP and to put in for the proposal. POST told DANTE BROWN to put in for the computer proposal.
The Trial Memorandum makes the connection to Yvonne Young who Dr. Joseph described in his testimony as his supervisor and “mentor” when working for the New York City School District:
CHARLES and YVONNE YOUNG received the proposal. It was a small contract for troubleshooting the computers at Mount Vernon. CHARLES described himself as a Consultant to MICROS ONLY. CHARLES stated that the contract was for DANTE BROWN – MICROS ONLY. in the beginning of the contract DANTE BROWN and ERNEST LAWRENCE JOSEPH had a disagreement. At this point in time, CHARLES asked DR. YVONNE YOUNG to come in and run MICROS ONLY. According to CHARLES, YVONNE YOUNG also handled the billing. in 1999, YIGAL JOSEPH joined MICROS ONLY but in 2000 he got sick so CHARLES started doing the billing. CHARLES explained that this was how he got into it, meaning MICROS ONLY. CHARLES also brought in his sister SUSIE SAHIR to do the paperwork. According to CHARLES, DR. YVONNE YOUNG responded to the RFP. (p.70)
In her proffer agreement, Post told federal prosecutors how Wayne Charles arranged a meeting between Dr. Joseph and Post, how Joseph represented himself as part of Micros Only, how Joseph met with her to discuss contracts:
POST advised that YIGAL JOSEPH(JOSEPH) was brought in to upgrade the finance department computers. In November 1999, Dr. YIGAL JOSEPH called POST to meet him at the Thruway Diner. JOSEPH told POST that he wanted to speak about computerization of the department and the “Y2K” program. JOSEPH told POST that he was part of MICROS ONLY. (p.82)
In the Federal Indictment handed down in the case, the Government describes Post steering no-bid computer services contracts, totaling in excess of $1,000,000 from the Mount Vernon government to Micros Only. Wayne Charles submitted proposals under the name of Micros Only, a real company that had ceased operation, but received money through a company with a slightly different name. Post would recommend that Mount Vernon award Micros Only contracts.
CHARLES instructed people who knew about this role in providing services under MICROS ONLY contracts to conceal his involvement from Mount Vernon employees, by among other means, not mentioning his name.
From in or about 1998 through in or about 2005, in the Southern District of New York and elsewhere, CONSTANCE G. POST and WAYNE CHARLES, the defendants, together with others known and unknown, unlawfully, willfully, and knowingly did combine, conspire, confederate, and agree together with each other to commit offenses against the United States, to wit, mail fraud in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1341 and 1346.
Among those involved with Micros Only was Dr. Joseph who, according to the Journal News “testified that he held himself out as the president of the computer company at the center of the Mount Vernon federal corruption trial.”
Charles set up a meeting between Joseph and Post at the Thruway Diner in New Rochelle. Joseph later went to City Hall to meet Post and tour the city’s departments. Joseph said he introduced himself as the president of Micros Only…
Joseph said he wasn’t paid by Charles for his efforts on behalf of the company. But under cross-examination, Charles’ lawyer, Richard Ware Levitt, showed him a $1,500 check from Charles that Joseph had cashed with the notation “Micros Only” in the memo line. Joseph said he didn’t remember the check.
Again, if there is some innocent explanation for all this then by all means let’s hear it but I have additional questions.
How was Dr. Joseph working for Micros Only while employed by the District?
Why would he start working for a company operating in Mount Vernon on or about the same time he was starting work in New Rochelle?
What does a school psychologist know about about running a computer company or programming systems to deal with the “Y2K bug”?
Feel free to add your own questions.