Westchester County Official Laundered Money to Pay for New Rochelle Armory Lawsuit, Former American Legion Accountant Says

Written By: Robert Cox

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.”

27 thoughts on “Westchester County Official Laundered Money to Pay for New Rochelle Armory Lawsuit, Former American Legion Accountant Says”

  1. I talk to Parents Of the Kids, Teacher’s Aides and since I live close to Trinity I can see it for myself. So whether I am completely informed by your standards or not that’s tough isn’t it? Do I tell you how to run your blog? Don’t tell me what I should be doing. I don’t answer to you Bobby. Again maybe what you can include is the impact of all these housing units will have on infrastructure, you know Traffic, Parking, Class Sizes, why the Developers get Tax Free for so long while Homeowners have to carry the burden.

    1. Pete,

      You are not informed at all about enrollment if you think enrollment is increasing, that schools are at capacity or that there are projections of any increase let alone 2,000 students. This is true regardless of how many parents or teachers aides you speak to.

      The appropriate comparison is not you telling me how to run Talk of the Sound but that I do not tell you how to run the American Legion, a point I alluded to earlier saying that I am very interested to hear what you have to say about malfeasance at the American Legion, you are the Commander and have said multiple times you are active in cleaning things up. You know a lot about that.

      With all due respect, you know nothing about running Talk of the Sound and apparently nothing about student enrollment or facilities at CSDNR.

      Do as you like but I believe it does not help for you to conflate topics like traffic and parking and tax breaks for developers with class size. One has nothing to do with another.

      My only point is that it undermines your credibility as Commander when you stray off topic into areas where you clearly know nothing, topics that have nothing to do with the American Legion and where you sound silly.

  2. Really? Every time I go by Trinity Elementary It’s pretty damn crazy there..the streets are jam packed. I didn’t say Full Capacity, I said at Capacity in a comfortable Teaching Environment, but wait until you get 2000 more kids in the schools. If there is a steady decline maybe people don’t want to live 6 to a one bedroom apartment anymore? Maybe people are packing up because what it costs to live here is like some people’s salry.

    1. Pete,

      There is a lot you post here that is uninformed but I let it slide because my interest is in what you have to say about what you DO know about.

      In this case, however, it might serve a purpose to highlight just how uninformed you are when you stray from Legion matters so perhaps you will stick to writing on what you do know.

      I would wonder where you are getting your ideas about school facilities as they are not based on reality. As you are a transplant to this area it is certainly not based on deep firsthand knowledge.

      There has been a DECLINE in enrollment and projections WITH PLANNED CONSTRUCTION is for a further decline as far out as the projections are made.

      I am entering my sixth year as one of the original members of the current District-Wide Healthy and Safety Committee which has oversight responsibility for City School District of New Rochelle facilities.

      Our oversight includes a range of subjects including construction oversight, bond spending, chemicals in schools, ventilation and air quality, lead in water and much more and includes parking and traffic issues. The City Manager is a co-chair of our committee and we work directly with the Facilities Director on a regular basis.

      Therefore, let’s agree that I know what I am talking about and know when someone who does not know is talking.

      The DWHS Committee has discussed traffic at various schools such as Trinity and Jefferson for years.

      At Jefferson CSDNR built a traffic lane for buses on school property parallel to Weyman using money from the 2016 bond which we oversee, which had the side benefit of clearing up parent traffic on Emmett Terrace. Unfortunately, there is no similarly available space on the Trinity campus to do that.

      The traffic issues at Trinity are long-standing and having NOTHING to do with capacity. There have been City and School studies going back 20+ years. A simple version of the issue is this: parents choose to drive their youngsters to the school, there is no drive-thru space on the campus, parents use Church and Pelham as unloading zones, parents do not want to follow the traffic laws on these public roadways, the City does not want to enforce the traffic laws (because the parents complain to the Principal, it goes up the CSDNR chain of command, the SI complains to the City Manager who tells NRPD to stop). Read the studies to learn more.

      You did NOT say “at Capacity in a comfortable Teaching Environment”.

      You said “at capacity”.

      Unless you ONLY go by Trinity Elementary around 8:30 am or 3:00 pm on a school day then I doubt “every time” you go by Trinity “It’s pretty damn crazy there..the streets are jam packed” as the crowds you describe are only there at drop off or pick up times. That said, this issue has not existed AT ALL for the past year due to COVID.

      “wait until you get 2000 more kids in the schools”

      There are NO projections of any kind that there will by ANY increase in the student population let alone “2000 more kids”.

      Again, I would ask where you are getting these ideas as they are divorced from reality. The bigger issue facing the schools is the actual and projected DECLINES and the resulting impact on Federal and State funding and in particular state aid and transportation formulas of which it sounds like you are unfamiliar.

      “If there is a steady decline maybe people don’t want to live 6 to a one bedroom apartment anymore?”

      There IS a steady decline as NYS enrollment data shows (Google is your friend here). I am not going to let pass that having been called out as wrong about your uninformed claim of rising student populations in our schools you want to row that back by tossing out another absurd statement to explain the decline, that “people don’t want to live 6 to a one bedroom apartment anymore”.

      Setting aside the ludicrous statement that New Rochelle is or was filled with one bedroom apartments accommodating 6 people, the decline in the public school population is not matched by a decline in the overall population, especially in the black community, where the students are still here, in school, just not in public school. The driver of this appears to be parents moving their kids to private school.

      People are NOT packing up because what it costs to live here, in fact, the opposite in that they are moving from NYC to NR because it is CHEAPER to live here for them.

      You seem especially confused about the new apartments coming online in downtown New Rochelle. As a resident both of downtown NR and one of the new buildings, and someone who had toured all the new apartment buildings, I can say from experience that the new apartments are not what I would call kid-friendly. They are expensive and the vast majority of units are studios and 1 BR. They are decidedly not marketed to families with school age children.

      As I said, I am very interested to hear what you have to say about malfeasance at Post 8 where you have first hand knowledge of what went on but it seems to me you are conflating that knowledge with things which you know little or nothing about.

      I hope you will consider sticking to Legion business and not drift into issues like the schools, development or events that took place when you were living in California.

  3. The Team assembled was a team that was brought in to restore the Building and keep it as a Public Structure, For Veterans Use and A Public Gathering Place as it had been for years until handed over to the City In Good Working order. There is no money to be made on the part of Veterans Groups like for a Developer. To put 3 12 story buildings in the back, overlooking the Sound seems like a dream come true for the Developer, problem is, the Sewage Plant to the Left, and out in the mud at low tide, the PCBs left over from years of toxic waste from the old ConEd plant isn’t too desirable a thought. Dredging it wouldn’t be a good idea, it could turn out to be a Superfund Site possibly, and then the Residents of Sutton manor wouldn’t want that. Think of it this way, everything the City and County are given charge to, look at the end result. The Armory, Ward Acres, Wildcliff Mansion, The Crumbling Castle at Glen Island Park, Five Points Park. It’s pretty bad. The whole story if you look at everything that’s being printed has been nothing but a hit piece on Veterans and Veterans Groups. Like we are all dead, this is to Minimize us, to make us Less Than what we are so then it is easier to distract. The Mayor and his Panel are the most Anti Veteran I have seen to date, he did run on an Anti Military platform. Then when the time came a few years ago revolving around the Gadsden Flag..being referred to as the same as the Confederate Flag, again I do not recall Ben Franklin wearing a Confederate Uniform. The Flag has been in existence in various forms since 1751. It is still in use by the U.S. Army for over 236 Years. Again with the System we have in place, particular in Westchester County they always need someone or a group to point to and lay blame, or propagate a narrative that works best for them, and that is the dirty little secret about Politics and Media. It’s been going on a long time, they just need to shuffle things around a bit.
    Peter Poulos Commander Post 8 New Rochelle, NY

  4. But this doesn’t explain why this Tocci guy gets to develop the property with his development team instead of the group that is currently. Didn’t Tocci lead a for profit team in 2012 in a failed bid?

  5. Embezzlement… forgery of Welker’s name when he wasn’t performing treasury duties due to illness… utilizing Post 8 as a self paying money machine! These are bad people. Stealing from a non-profit, Veterans organization!!! O’Keefe and Parchens have a future behind bars and I can’t wait to see it. Get your popcorn ready. This will all lead into Bramson and the developers being in bed together. The amount of high rises in this city is ridiculous. Not one has been successful ending up with section 8, all laced into the agreements in the first place. Return New Rochelle back to benefitting her people… not liking crooks’ pockets!!!

  6. You can’t publish allegations publicly without proof other wise its defamation of character and now you are complicit in that for your own personal gain to try and smear the legacy of man who has done all of the above plus more for the betterment of his community. Again, I say to you, before you get yourself into something even deeper with the law to which you do not comprehend that you are already in, I suggest you wake up and smell the coffee. You have no rights to ask to see documentation and documents pertaining to any case if you are not party to that case that is already occurring or if you not the legal representative of either party for the ongoing matter, which is yet again unlaw confidential until its resolution. The simple fact that you are publishing articles without any basis in fact or proof is already proving your intent to spread disinformation and do harm . Smell the coffee and know the truth or go report on the migration of the pigeons this season and how that may be different then last year due to climate change, something you can prove.

    1. “You can’t publish allegations publicly without proof other wise its defamation of character.”

      We publish “allegations publicly without proof” all the time as does every other media outlet I can think of. When a person is arrested and charged we report the allegations and we typically do not have proof. We report what law enforcement alleges.

      “You have no rights to ask to see documentation and documents pertaining to any case”.

      I have every right to ask anyone for anything.

      “you are publishing articles without any basis in fact or proof is already proving your intent to spread disinformation and do harm”

      It is a fact that Neal Parchen made allegations about Ron Tocci just as Peter Poulos made allegations against Neal Parchen and Tom O’Keefe.

      “go report …something you can prove.”

      I run a news outlet not a courtroom and I can prove that the allegations described above were made.

  7. Ron Tocci, is the only thing that New Rochelle has left in terms Dignity and Respect, He is someone who spreads himself thin trying to help veterans, their children , those with mental Illness and substance abuse problems, and the entire community at large for New Rochelle and its inhabitants and their safety. Knowing Ron since I was a child has vasty improved the life of my family and he was the only person who could get through to my father to turn his life around and stop drinking his life away and he did not have to give us the time of day with all that he has going on but he has for decades. Because of Ron’s Positive influence, my father was able to rehabilitate himself and lead a life dedicated to his community of veterans in Both the American Legion, VFW, AMVETS and Catholic vets of America. The absolute Fabrication and entertaining of your facts to try and make Ron look bad, will come back and bite you. I have been right along side my father since I was a child as a lifelong member of the Sons of the American Legion, and anything you are trying to fabricate for sure is not true. Because of Ron things exist for Veterans that were never possible before in NY state or even in our area, Because of Ron hundreds and hundreds of Veterans have a place to live that is safe and have the healthcare and assistance they need. Because of Ron the VA, has had to pay their fair share of assistance to Veterans who come home from war with no legs or limbs and that the VA denies responsibility or help for, when those veterans fought for their country and lost their limbs so that YOU have a country to live in. Because of Ron those Veterans are taken care of and NOW receive the care and assistance they need. Because of Ron spouses of veterans have the help they need when that veteran passes away. Because of Ron a huge amount of veterans who have laid in freezers some for years to decades in hospitals with no family to claim their remains, have been able to have a dignified and official burial in a veterans cemetery, with a full detail and send off that they deserve for serving their country while being buried with respect. Because of Ron New Rochelle and Larchmont on i95 more then a decade ago got rid of a cash paying a toll on the south bound side coming from Port Chester / Connecticut into New Rochelle causing a constant back up of cars and pollution and smog to the areas inhabitants, which we now know in modern days statistically causes people in those surrounding those areas to have higher rates of breathing problems asthma and COPD. He did this more than a decade before NY decide to go cashless at the tolls that we have now seen in recent times. RON TOCCI is the best man and symbol of his community that should not only be respected but people should be educated on. You sir will fail with your fake allegations and fabricated stories. Before you get yourself into something deeper then you can comprehend in regards to the law, I suggest you wake up and smell the coffee. As Pete Poulos said, you have no basis in the law of fact if you have no proof for which I am sure you do not, as a public landmark is to be used for public use and Ron Tocci was the person who tirelessly fought to get t the Armory from NY State for New Rochelle so it can be used as public and recreational use. So when you say the name Ron Tocci, his name and likeness deserves a Statue for all he has done in his daily 14-16 hour days to help his community and his Veterans. The fact that he continues to help those in need at his age, shows his commitment.

    1. It is true that the former accountant made the allegations described in the article. Not sure how the rest of your comment addresses the allegations.

  8. This goes deeper than a few checks that were AUTHORIZED by the different Veterans Groups to have the Armory Lawsuit. The only Interests Veterans have on this building that has a History since 1931 is to keep it for The Public, Not in the hands of a For Profit Developer. How many more High Rise Housing Units does this City need? How is this town going to handle the impact of more traffic and more students in the schools. They are almost at capacity now. As for all the Controversies so called that have arose between the Legion and VFW and City was the whole kerfuffle about the Gadsden Flag that was on display for a short period of time. As it is true that people in the Tea Party had used it..people have also used the American Flag as well so does that mean The Flag is a symbol of Hate? Maybe to some people who do not like the Flag. Some people will recall that the Mayor of New Rochelle was elected on a Anti Military Platform, Part of that had to do with removing Military Recruiters from access to The Schools, but we are told he is Supportive of The Military and It’s Veterans. I am not Besmirching The Mayor, I am just reminding All of you as to his Platform on seeking office. As a few people may know, In the fall of 1775, the Continental Navy was established by General George Washington in his role as Commander in Chief of all Continental Forces, before Esek Hopkins was named Commodore of the Navy. Those first ships were used to intercept incoming transport ships carrying war supplies to the British in the colonies in order to supply the Continental Army, which was desperately under supplied in the opening years of the American Revolutionary War. The Second Continental Congress authorized the mustering of five companies of Marines to accompany the Navy on their first mission. Continental Colonel Christopher Gadsden represented his home state of South Carolina and was one of seven members of the Marine Committee outfitting the first naval mission. The first Marines enlisted in the city of Philadelphia and carried drums painted yellow and depicting a coiled rattlesnake with thirteen rattles along with the motto “Don’t Tread on Me.” This is the first recorded mention of the future Gadsden flag’s symbolism.Before the departure of that first mission in December 1775, the newly appointed commander-in-chief of the Navy, Commodore Esek Hopkins, received a yellow rattlesnake flag from Gadsden to serve as the distinctive personal standard of his flagship. Hopkins had previously led The United Companies of the Train of Artillery of the Town of Providence, which had a similar flag, before being appointed to lead the Navy. Gadsden also presented a copy of this flag to the Congress of South Carolina in Charleston, South Carolina. This was recorded in the South Carolina congressional journals on February 9, 1776 Colonel Gadsden presented to the Congress an elegant standard, such as is to be used by the commander in chief of the American Navy; being a yellow field, with a lively representation of a rattlesnake in the middle in the attitude of going to strike and these words underneath, “Don’t tread on me.” This Flag had a Long History prior to the last 13 years or so..it is NOT The Confederate Flag Either. My Personal feelings are, if you are disturbed by a Relic of History, or by People who have died 500 Years ago, Your Problems may be deeper than you know.
    Peter Poulos Commander The American Legion Post 8.

    1. For the record,

      The public schools in New Rochelle are absolutely NOT at capacity (if you mean FULL capacity). In fact, the opposite is the case. There was been a steady DECLINE in the student population in the public schools over the past few years.

    1. The article does not say he is a “thief” so not sure why you feel the need to say he is “not a thief.” Do not get ahead of the facts.

  9. When we have everything packaged and ready, we will inform you of the meeting to take place with the Board and you are welcome to attend. There is nothing to hide here, I have either been busy or because of your bias towards some of us I have chosen not to engage with you unless it is in an official capacity and witnessed by members of The Board or General Membership.

  10. Neal Parchen did NOT work pro bono. He paid himself $35,000 over a few years to write checks. We have copies of the checks he paid himself $200 anytime he walked in the door for 40 minutes. The Former Commander paid himself quite well to the tune of a minimum $600 a week. They both worked in concert to take funds meant for Veterans to give to themselves. We have copies of the checks. The former Commander also verbally abused the former Treasurer Mr. Welker so badly he quit. Between Tom O’Keefe and Neal Parchen they signed Mr. Welker’s name to a Loan Document to get money after he had already left 2 years before. Again we have all the paperwork and a letter from Mr. Welker to the fact he was NOT the Treasurer and did not give them permission to use his name for that purpose. Neal Parchen was asked to leave Post 8 after his Second Physical and Verbal Confrontation against members..witnessed by 14 members at both meetings. We have the paperwork showing money going to O’Keefe and Parchen, we do not have anything showing any payments going to Ron Tocci. We had meetings where the Members voted UNANIMOUSLY to make funds available towards the lawsuit and other organizations that have expressed interest too.
    Peter Poulos Commander Post 8 New Rochelle.

    1. Happy to see all the paperwork you care to provide starting with the checks I have been asking about where $3000 was paid to Amodio including the $2000 check from VFW to AL.

      When can I get THOSE checks?

      Once you provide the checks I have been asking about we can go through whatever malfeasance you care to allege.

    2. On the subject of YOUR allegations:

      It sounds like you are making at least two serious allegations of criminality.

      1. Embezzlement & Fraud

      2. Loan Fraud

      If the bank that provided the loan is federally chartered or FDIC insured and a person files a false loan document that is a MAJOR crime. It is known as “the headshot” and can get a person a 10-year sentence in a Federal prison.

      When were these crimes reported? Which law enforcement agency? What is status of any investigation or prosecution?

  11. Didn’t Westchester County DA just do something about public corruptoins this seems like an easy one to go after. Totally Law and Order bad dump pump…

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