Hours After Receiving School District Checks and Invoices, Trustee Shuts Down Don Coqui

Written By: Robert Cox

Within hours of receiving information from Talk of the Sound about the relationship between MacMenamin’s Grill and the City School District of New Rochelle, Robert L. Geltzer, the U.S. Trustee appointed by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in White Plains to run MacMenamin’s, arrived unexpectedly at the restaurant and shut it down.

Earlier in the day Talk of the Sound had questioned Geltzer about the relationship between the school district and the restaurant. Geltzer expressed surprise to learn that MacMenamin’s Grill was doing business with a school. We informed Geltzer that MacMenamin’s Grill has been awarded a no-bid contract by New Rochelle and reportedly had similar “cooking school” deals with the Scarsdale and Valhalla school district and The New York School for the Deaf.

We also informed Geltzer that the City School District of New Rochelle has been flagged for its dealings with MacMenamin’s Grill by New York Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli in an audit of district financial controls last spring and that our own reporting had raised serious questions about how funds flowed from the district to the restaurant. We agreed to provide Mr. Geltzer with copies of the New York State audit, invoices from MacMenamin’s Grill to the New Rochelle school district and checks paid to MacMenamin’s Grill and transmitted those documents to him that afternoon.

The Journal News is now reporting that a few hours later, Geltzer shut down the restaurant and refused to re-open pending a review of the restaurant’s financial records. The restaurant remains closed.

Ricardo Oquendo, the lawyer representing Don Coqui Restaurant Group, said the trustee, Robert Geltzer, pledged Thursday afternoon to let the restaurant remain open if Jimmy Rodriguez, the head of the restaurant group, could produce $150,000 by the next day. But just before midnight Thursday, Geltzer walked into the restaurant and declared that he was closing it immediately, Oquendo said.

Oquendo said that Friday Geltzer told another restaurant group lawyer, Mark Tulis, that if Rodriguez produced the $150,000 that day he would allow the restaurant to reopen for the weekend. Oquendo said he provided Geltzer’s office with $100,000 by 2 p.m. Friday and showed up with another $50,000 later in the day.

But at that point, Geltzer declared he needed to review the restaurant’s books and financial records, Oquendo said.

This series of events followed directly from the school board meeting the night before where I sought to raise questions about the district’s business relationship with MacMenamin’s Grill:

School Board Erupts When Questioned About MacMenamin’s Deal

In the above linked article, we go line by line through the auditor’s report and review the questions raised by the documents so far made available. To put the article in context, a simple way to look at it is to ask why, out of the billion dollars spent by the school district over the past five years, the deal with MacMenamin’s is the only one where student services were paid for without an RFP, without competitive bidding, without a contract and instead through the less-than-transparent “board resolution” process.

One thought on “Hours After Receiving School District Checks and Invoices, Trustee Shuts Down Don Coqui”

  1. It’s time the New Rochelle
    It’s time the New Rochelle school district be put under the microscope to see how many no-bid deals and contracts they have made and given out in the past several years. Is the school district awarding contracts to friends and “friends of friends”? Makes you wonder. MacMenamin’s is in bankruptcy and has a court appointed trustee who should be scrutinizing all financial transactions. The trustee should then approve or reject “deals” and contracts only if they adhere to the bankruptcy codes – and are “above board”. Hmmmm how did this deal slip by? Hmmmmm. And this is how taxpayer’s money is spent!!!!

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