NEW ROCHELLE, NY — Westchester County Veterans Services Agency Director Ronald C. Tocci washed two-thousand dollars through an American Legion operating account to fund a lawsuit he secretly orchestrated, according to the accountant who cut the check.
Neal Parchen was 1st Vice Commander of American Legion Post #8. He served for 30 years on the New York Police Department, most of it as a Detective. After his retirement from the NYPD, he began a new career as a tax accountant. Over the past decade, he has served, on and off, as accountant for Post #8 on a pro-bono basis, along with a stint as acting Treasurer.
Parchen tells his story this way.
Ron Tocci made what he called a “donation” to Post #8 in 2019 for $2,000.
Tom O’Keefe, the American Legion Post #8 Commander at the time objected and the check was returned to Tocci. Tocci then went around O’Keefe, personally delivering the check to Bill Welker, the Treasurer of Post #8 at the time. Unaware that O’Keefe had previously rejected the “donation”, Welker deposited the check into the Post #8 operating account.
Why Tocci would want to pay Michael Amodio, the attorney who filed the Armory lawsuit, through the American Legion rather than directly is unclear.
Parchen says he took over many of the accounting duties at the Post when Welker resigned as Treasurer due to health reasons in 2019, the same year the Armory lawsuit was filed by Amodio.
Tocci pressured O’Keefe to pay Amodio from the proceeds of the $2,000 check. At one point, after the $2,000 “donation” was in the American Legion account, Tocci demanded Parchen “refund” the money with a check to Tocci.
Parchen said that cutting a check for $2,000 to Tocci would not be a “refund” but rather a payment to Tocci as Tocci only provided the physical “donation” check not the funds.
Parchen ultimately cut the check to Amodio, as directed by O’Keefe.
Talk of the Sound reached out to O’Keefe who was forced out as Commander of Post #8 in November 2020 because he was not supportive of the lawsuit. O’Keefe did not respond to emails or phone calls. O’Keefe signed a Non-Disclosure Agreement, sources say.
Asked whether Tocci provided a $2,000 personal check Parchen laughed.
“Ron would never use $2,000 of his money,” said Parchen.
He was not certain but Parchen says he believes the $2,000 check was drawn on the operating account of the New Rochelle VFW #439.
Peter Poulus the current Commander of Post #8 did not respond to an email seeking clarification on the checks.
If the $2,000 check came from the VFW that opens up a number of questions.
The Commander of VFW #439 is Peter Parente, widely known to be a Tocci puppet.
Parente, a once-popular but now-disgraced figure in New Rochelle, a person with a history of illegal drug use who has been in and of court in recent years on illegal gun charges and crashing his car into a woman who is suing him, was removed from the New Rochelle Veterans Advisory Committee by former Council Member Louis Trangucci, his brother-in-law, after he posted a hate-filled xenophobic screed on his Facebook page.
Parente is also, by virtue of his role with the local VFW, the President of the United Veterans Memorial and Patriotic Association (UVMPA).
For years, the UVMPA has been the conduit through which the City of New Rochelle has funded activities such as Memorial Day and Veterans Day ceremonies and other activities such as parades and picnics — tens of thousands of dollars a year for many years.
The big question is whether Parente took money given to the UVMPA by the City, moved it over to the VFW and then cut a check to the American Legion which Tocci arranged to have deposited in the American Legion Post #8 operating account, in turn arranging for the American Legion to transmit the laundered funds to Michael Amodio.
If true, it means the Armory lawsuit against the City of New Rochelle is being funded by the City of New Rochelle.
It also might explain why Tocci pressured O’Keefe to accept a $2,000 “donation” and why O’Keefe refused to accept the “donation”.
“In 2019, I was told to cut a check to the lawyer who was retained to fight New Rochelle over the Armory,” said Parchen. “In other words, Tocci ran money through the Post 8 bank account to pay for the lawyer.”
“The check was for $2,000 made out to the lawyer. Tocci told me ‘make the check out to my lawyer” so I did.
Parchen said during some point in 2017 or 2018 another check for $1,000 was cut to Amodio to “support” the lawsuit, but he was not involved with the Post finances at the time.
Parchen has other concerns about Tocci.
“Tocci manipulates the board and makes terrible decisions,” said Parchen. “Some of them are illegal such as paying people other than members of the Post off the books.”
“That’s a violation of the IRS Trust fund and if done on purpose it’s a crime,” he added.
“When you pay people off the books your wide open for huge penalties from the New York Department of Labor, New York State Department of Finance, Unemployment and Workers Compensation. In short, it is fraud and has serious repercussions if found out.”
Parchen said anyone who opposes Tocci on the Board is either harassed from the Post or kicked off the Board based on phony charges.
“Tocci did this to Jim Mecca when he was Treasurer after Mecca refused to take employees off the books,” said Parchen. “At the next meeting Tocci called a vote and Mecca was removed from the board.”
Parchen described a vicious circle: the more people Tocci removes from the Board the more Tocci stacks the Board with people who defer to him and the more people he can remove from the Board.
“In our July 2020 meeting Tocci made a motion to have the Post endorse the lawsuit. I brought up an issue of liability to Post 8. When we got an answer the motion was tabled.”
Parchen was particularly annoyed at Tocci claiming he had the backing of veterans throughout the entire County.
“He made a false statement,” said Parchen. “Post 8 never voted to back the lawsuit.”