Many readers had been wondering why we had not published more about the corruption in the New Rochelle school system. As the DOJ investigation picked up steam, we held back, waiting for indictments to drop. They have begun to drop and so now we can start to run the backlog of stories we have saved up.
For those of you who are new to all this, please go back and read the entire series on New Rochelle Board of Education: Criminal Enterprise Masquerading as an Educational Institution.
What you will find is that the City School District of New Rochelle is arguably the single most corrupt school district in New York State, and given New York State’s reputation for corruption, that is saying something. It would not be a stretch to say that New Rochelle has one of the most corrupt school district’s in the United States.
Next up, here is another tip we received last week:
“Zonzini did the fire place in Bonannos (sic) office at Cliff St. and Gallagher billed it as something else so no one would know.”
We did some checking and found that Jimmy Bonanno does indeed have a wood-burning stove in his office. The images we have, through a window looking into Jimmy’s office, are not great quality but visible is a stove mounted on a slab of stone with stone facing. There is a sort of stone “back splash” along two walls in the corner of the house. That looks like work entirely consistent with the sort of work Mauro Zonzini has done for Jimmy at his house and New Rochelle Police Commissioner at his house.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: if you have better quality images please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org or text them to 914-325-4616]
There is also a large hunting trophy, a mounted deer head. School officials have long been aware of the hunting trophies in Jimmy’s office and vowed to have them removed. Looks like Jimmy did not get the memo.
So, like Matisse and his hideaway bungalow in the elevator room at New Rochelle High School, this is Jimmy Bonanno’s “Hunting Lodge”.
Jimmy testified about the stove under oath during his defamation lawsuit. He was questioned by the lawyer representing WVOX.
Q. Is there a kitchen in that building?
A. In the back there’s — there’s not really a kitchen.
Q. The answer is no?
A. There’s a kitchen upstairs. They don’t use it. And the one downstairs they really don’t use a kitchen no more. We don’t have a stove. We just have a refrigerator. We have an old-fashioned stove that —
Q. How about a microwave?
A. We have a microwave.
Q. Have you got a toaster oven?
Q. Coffee machine?
A. They don’t drink coffee. We keep one in my office, a Keurig.
Q. Me too.
Talk of the Sound readers are well familiar with the New Rochelle Board of Education facility at 51 Cliff Street in New Rochelle. This is where the grounds crew is housed.
The property itself is a source of corruption, with the District leasing the space at above market rates for years, paying taxes on the property that were the responsibility of the owner. The property is leased from Nancy Lore, the property is in her name, but it is actually managed by her son, a friend of Jimmy Bonanno.
The property is the location of the infamous death threat written on the side of Jimmy Bonanno’s boat. Multiple sources have told Talk of the Sound that the death threat was posted on the boat by Jimmy Bonanno’s son, “Little Jimmy”. Little Jimmy is a heroin addict, known to use a school district vehicle to visit the Westchester County methadone clinic in New Rochelle, and who was arrested last year for possession of heroin. Little Jimmy all but admitted this in sworn testimony in his lawsuit, brought about by his father, against Talk of the Sound and WVOX which aired the Talk of the Sound radio show.
Back to New Rochelle being so corrupt.
There are folks who object to this characterization. They argue that all communities have corruption and that New Rochelle is no different than any other place. My response to that is two-fold. First, I do not live in some other place and Talk of the Sound does not cover some other place, we cover New Rochelle. Second, the corruption in New Rochelle is, in my experience, unique and unique in a bad way.
The corruption in New Rochelle goes back to a mafia-thug culture in New Rochelle, primarily coming out of the West End of New Rochelle. Back in the day, there were mob shootings, murders and meetings of the highest level in New Rochelle. Some major figures in the Five Families lived in New Rochelle. The Garbage Wars were centered on New Rochelle were garbage trucks were bombed and burned and owner/operators were shot, beaten, stabbed and killed.
Despite infamous incidents over the past decade like a car bombing on Union Avenue and a guy getting his hand mostly chopped off at one of the “social clubs” and a federal indictment for a “hit” on a former business associate by a past member of the New Rochelle Police Foundation and even the recent indictment of a New Rochelle resident in the roundup of the leadership of the Luchese crime family yesterday, the days when the mafia was a dominant force in New Rochelle have long since passed.
What has not passed is the glorification of the mafia-thug culture by the descendents of those figures or those who would pose as mafia types. It is why you see an “embassy” in front of Cousins Cigar Lounge along East Main Street that looks more like a set from the Sopranos – a place frequented by a variety of figures including retired police officers and sitting members of City Council, among others. You see it in the phony “tough guy” swagger of people like Jimmy Bonanno. You see it the PACT Fantasy Football with team names like Goodfellas, The Hitmen, Bad Boyz, New Jack City, and Tuxedo Mafia, among others. Real mafia members, unless your John Gotti, do not go out of their way to attract attention to themselves like the “wannabes” posing in front of Vinny Mirabile’s cigar store or filing defamation lawsuits like Jimmy Bonanno.
That said, it is no coincidence that the “friends and family” network of New Rochelle include so many people coming out of the “old New Rochelle” or “West End” culture. Now, some people, including my friends are going to be mad at me for pointing this out because there are plenty (mostly) good people who come out of the neighborhoods but it is fact (and they know it) that the Domenico Procopios (Chairman of the Civil Service Commission) and Jimmy Generosos (Clerk of the City County of New Rochelle) or Jimmy Bonannos (head of the grounds department) or their ilk are all part of that West End milieu. And they have brought their friends and family into key positions in the public sector.
At the other end of town you have had control of the Democratic Party via people like Arnie Klugman and Noam Bramson and Barry Fertel and their operatives, people like Mitchell Taranpol and their influence over the school board and every committee in the city government. These are the folks that control the levers of power in New Rochelle. They got rid of the many “friends and family” cronies of the past but replaced them with people who even when qualified and well-meaning are unaware or unwilling to address corruption in New Rochelle. Their support comes from people who are what I called the “cheerleading squad”, the people who tell you that the greatest strength of New Rochelle is it’s diversity then go home to their predominantly white neighborhoods, where their kids go to fake-diverse schools, where they shop at grocery stores like Golden Horseshoe or Quaker Ridge where the site of a black person shopping at those stores is a rare sight. These are the people who get very upset about “negative” reporting by Talk of the Sound. It is how the New Rochelle Board of Education is run, absorbed with public relations with little or no concern for the safety of children or protecting taxpayer money.
In short, there are people dedicated to covering things up and people who do things that need to be covered and they all work in harmony to deceive New Rochelle residents and thereby perpetuate the corruption.