New Rochelle, New York (June 29, 2011) – New Rochelle City Council Members Louis Trangucci, Albert Tarantino and Richard St. Paul issued a statement today calling for an independent financial audit of City finances and a criminal referral to the U.S. Attorney in the wake of criminal fraud charges against a supervisor in the Department of Public Works.
On Tuesday, in the Westchester County Court in White Plains, Judge Alberto Lorenzo unsealed a 66 count grand jury indictment against Fevang covering 22 specific instances of fraud involving rigged bids going back to 2006.
“I am deeply saddened to hear that some people were asleep at the wheel while taxpayers’ money was being taken for personal benefit”, said City Council Member Louis Trangucci. “Based on a review of personnel records this is an employee who should have never been hired in the first place.”
Fevang admitted on his job application, filed at the time of his employment in 1993, to prior arrests and convictions. The Westchester County District Attorney from 2001 to 2006 investigated Fevang and impounded his personal vehicle although charges were never filed.
“That this employees misconduct, going back to 2001, was allowed to continue unabated for a decade or more, is disturbing,” added City Council Member Louis Trangucci.
City Council Member Richard St. Paul expressed his concern with the lack of oversight and financial controls in the City of New Rochelle.
“We have already seen the cost of the failure of federal regulators to watch Wall Street, the failure at the State level to monitor our state pension fund,” said St. Paul. “We cannot tolerate the same lax oversight at a local level.”
“Given the breadth and scope of the massive fraud case against Mr. Fevang — 66 counts involving 22 incidents over a period of 6 years, on top of a prior investigation by the District Attorney from 2001 to 2006 – it is hardly credible to assert that Mr. Fevang acted alone in defrauding the taxpayers out of many thousands of dollars,” continued St. Paul. “For that reason I am calling for an independent forensic audit to do a top to bottom review of the way we do business as a City and a full review of our financial controls. I want to make sure that proper safeguards are in place to make sure something like this never happens again but that cannot happen without a full internal investigation conducted by people other than those who were charged with preventing the type of fraud alleged by the District Attorney.”
City Council Member Albert Tarantino called for a criminal referral to federal authorities.
“As funds used to carry out this fraud included Federal dollars and the parties involved crossed state lines,” said Tarantino “I join my colleagues in asking that the U.S. Attorney investigate this matter.”
All three City Council Members stressed that if Fevang is convicted, the City must make every effort to see that his pension be revoked and, in turn, returned to the City treasury to reimburse the taxpayers.”
The City Council Members went to great lengths to differentiate the actions of Fevang, and those he acted in concert with, and New Rochelle’s municipal employees.
City Council Member Louis Trangucci said, “I want to thank the hard working men and woman of the Department of Public Works and I want to let them know that the acts of a few should not be a reflection of the service they provide for the city.”
City Council Member Richard St. Paul concurred.
“I want to thank the hard working employees of the City of New Rochelle. These are men and women who get up every morning to work hard to make this City a better place. I hope this case makes clear that if they are aware of waste, fraud and abuse in our City government and report it, they will be supported and there will be consequences for any wrongdoers”.
City Council Member Albert Tarantino echoed the sentiments of his colleagues on City Council.
“Our municipal employees in New Rochelle are second to none in their dedication and hard work. They are the backbone of our community. I want to thank them for their service to our community.”
Trangucci praised the “whistleblower” that made the case against Fevang possible.
“I want to single out Pat Pappalardi, a department of public works employee who came to me with information of wrongdoing which I was able to use to request the assistance of the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office in this matter. For the past 10 years, Mr. Pappalardi has raised the alarm about Mr. Fevang. Without his steadfast perseverance, we would not be now discussing a 66-count fraud indictment against Richard Fevang. The citizens of New Rochelle owe Mr. Pappalardi a great deal of gratitude.”