NEW ROCHELLE, NY — The New Rochelle Board of Ethics met for the first time with their new outside counsel on Friday.
Wilson Elser will assist the ethics board in their investigation into allegations of a conflict of interest involving New Rochelle Human Resources Director Christine Dodge and New Rochelle PBA President Christopher Greco.
A key question for investigators is whether the police union contract valued at over $100 million and approved by the New Rochelle City Council on September 17, 2019 contains changes to the previous contract made for the benefit of a particular individual.
Greco was the sole counter-party to the Memorandum of Agreement between the City of New Rochelle and the PBA.
Dodge, who signed the New Rochelle PBA Memorandum of Agreement, was allegedly involved romantically with Greco.
An analysis of the two contracts by Talk of the Sound shows Greco benefited significantly from the agreement signed by Dodge then adopted by the New Rochelle City Council.
To better understand how the PBA contract agreed to in 2013 is different than the PBA contract agreed to in 2019 we ran a software program that tracks modifications, insertions and deletions in documents then compared the resulting report with the 2019 MOA adopted by the New Rochelle City Council in September 2019.
Under the 2019 agreement between the City of New Rochelle and the New Rochelle PBA, a successor Agreement to the one reached in 2013, most of the provisions of the 2013 agreement were carried forward in the 2019 agreement.
Most, not all.
The modifications in the successor collective bargaining agreement are loosely summarized in the 2019 Memorandum of Agreement which is the document approved by the New Rochelle City Council. The actual contract was never presented to the City Council and, based on our reporting, no Council members then or now have seen the final, executed contract.
Most of the modifications stated in the 2019 MOA are not specific to any particular individual: across the board salary increases, the creation of a new stipend for police specialists, and various benefit increases, among others.
There are two modifications to the final contract which directly benefit Greco as the PBA President — modifications to Article II, Section 8 that are not fully articulated in the MOA presented to City Council.
The first is to increase days off for Greco to attend “Union Conventions or Functions” from 20 working days to 35 working days (a 75% increase).
The second is to increase days off for Greco to attend to “Union business” from 15 working days to 30 working days (a 100% increase).
Combined, the two modifications grant Greco a stunning 65 working days off a year — or about three months annually.
As a result of the generous 2019 MOA approved by City Council, Greco is not required to be at work — or even in New Rochelle — for a quarter of each year.
From his accounts on social media, it appears Greco spends a great deal of these days off promoting his non-profit organization.
Article II, Section 5 has another notable modification in the section on “Union Investigation of Grievances During Work Hours”. Greco is permitted a “reasonable period of time” (where “reasonable” is undefined) during working hours, without the loss of pay, to investigate grievable matters and/or to adjust grievances.
In the 2013 agreement, that time applied only to consulting with the PBA attorney.
In the 2019 agreement that time also now includes time consulting with accountants and financial professionals.
There is no explanation in the Legislation presented to City Council or the Memorandum of Agreement or the PBA Contract as to why dealing with grievances — traditionally the sole purview of a labor lawyer — now includes dealing with accountants and financial professionals.
Taken together, these three changes raise questions of whether there has been a blurring of the lines between Greco’s job as a police officer, a union boss, and his private interests — his non-profit, his new restaurant and the businesses of his friends and neighbors.
The Board of Ethics and their new outside counsel may want to explore this web of interests using their power to issue subpoenas, compel record production and take witness testimony under oath.
No one can question the stated goals of Greco’s non-profit, Christopher’s Voice, to provide assistance to families with autistic children, or the Autism Patch Challenge, to promote autism awareness and acceptance.
What can be and should be questioned by investigators is the blurring of the lines which involves large sums of taxpayer money, taxpayer-funded resources and facilities, as well as union funds and resources. The PBA Contract requires the City to deduct union dues from all police officers below the rank of Sergeant, funds used to pay for Greco’s activities as PBA President.
Was the massive increase in days off provided to Greco as the result of his relationship with Christine Dodge?
Even today, Dodge is in a position to further expand Greco’s time not working as a police officer. Under Article II, Section 6 of the Contract, Greco gets additional time off to attend meetings with management but only if approved by Dodge.
Greco was paid $189,264 by the City of New Rochelle in 2020. That does not count overhead costs like payroll tax and other employer costs which bumps that figure above $200,000.
With 250 work days in a year, based solely on his income of $189,264, Greco was paid $757 a day in 2020. Those 65 days off added up to more than $49,000. 35 days are paid for by the taxpayer; 30 days are paid by the City but reimbursed by the PBA.
Over the course of his PBA Presidency the cost to taxpayers for Greco’s paid days off runs into the hundreds of thousands of dollars and under the Dodge version of the contract, the days paid for by the City jumped 75% while days reimbursed to the City by the PBA doubled.
As PBA President, Greco has control over all PBA marketing and promotion, including the PBA Facebook page. Greco routinely weaves information about his non-profit organization into posts on the PBA Facebook page, which in turn promotes his for-profit restaurant in Larchmont, Christopher’s by Chef Joe run by Greco’s neighbor and business partner Joe Giordano.
Greco’s restaurant has a state liquor license. It is illegal in New York for a sworn-police officer to own a business with a liquor license.
One name that pops up on the PBA Facebook page as a fundraising partner is Cousins Cigars & Hookah Lounge which has partnered with Greco in the past on fundraisers for Christopher’s Voice. Cousins is owned by retired New Rochelle Police Detective Vinnie Mirabile, known for alleged charity fraud, connections to an organized crime associate indicted by the United States Department of Justice, illegal high-stakes poker games and flagrant violations of state liquor laws and the New Rochelle City Code.
Mirabile’s list of corporate sponsors for his past “fundraisers” include Christopher Greco Home Inspection Services, the New Rochelle PBA, and Anna & Jack’s Treehouse. Mirabile has set up a Cousins pop-up store to sell cigars at PBA events.
One relationship investigators may want to examine is the stunning and seemingly inexplicable relationship between Greco and Westchester magazine.
In April 2020, Westchester magazine named Greco one of thirteen “Hometown Heroes” with a full-page spread in the magazine about Greco and his non-profit. Greco appears on the cover of the issue.
In February 2021, Westchester magazine gave Greco’s restaurant a coveted full-page “preview” review.
In July 2020, Westchester magazine named Greco’s non-profit the “Best Local Charity” in its Best of Westchester edition.
In July 2021, Westchester magazine again named Greco’s non-profit the “Best Local Charity” in its Best of Westchester edition for the second year running.
In July 2021, Westchester magazine announced the Charity Partner for its Best of Westchester gala in 2021 and 2022 is the Seton Children’s Center. Greco has made it public that his son resides at Seton Children’s Center.
Westchester magazine has rained down largess on others connected to Greco.
In July 2020, Westchester magazine named Anna & Jack’s Treehouse “Best Childcare” in its Best of Westchester edition.
In July 2021, Westchester magazine again named Anna & Jack’s Treehouse “Best Childcare” in its Best of Westchester edition for the second year running.
Anna & Jack’s Treehouse is owned by Rob and Christina Rubicco, Greco’s friends and neighbors. In 2013, Greco and Rob Rubicco were both elected Board members of the Sans Souci Homeowners Association and Sans Souci Pool & Tennis Club Greco resigned from both boards in 2016 but has since returned to the Sans Souci HOA Board. Rubicco resigned from both boards in 2019.
There have been lawsuits and formal complaints against Greco and Rubicco about financial malfeasance related to their role on the board of the Sans Souci beach club and San Souci tennis club.
Spencer Rubicco, Rob’s brother, was arrested by Eastchester Police in 2010 on grand larceny and forgery charges related to credit card theft. After the victim pressed charges, the tires on her car were slashed, the car keyed and a windshield wiper broken
After the victim sustained thousands of dollars’ worth of damage to her car, police said, Rob Rubicco contacted the victim repeatedly posing as a member of the District Attorney’s Office and offering to fix her car if she would drop the charges against his brother. Rubicco was arrested by Eastchester PD and charged with bribing a witness, a Class D felony.
In 2014, Rubicco comically sought help hiding the Journal News story in Google search results on a shady web forum. Black Hat World is described online as a place where webmasters can discuss all aspects of black hat search engine optimization: “If you are a stright and narrow kind of person this FORUM is NOT for you.”
Greco and Rubicco are involved with the New Rochelle Chamber of Commerce. Christina Rubicco is a friend of Chamber Director Catherine White.
In 2020, the New Rochelle Chamber of Commerce gave Greco an award for “Distinguished Community Service” for his work on his non-profit organization which Greco, in turn, promoted on the PBA Facebook page.
In July 2021, Westchester magazine named the New Rochelle Chamber of Commerce “Best Chamber of Commerce” in its Best of Westchester edition.
AJ’s Burgers sells catering services to the New Rochelle PBA. The restaurant stopped advertising in Talk of the Sound under pressure from Greco.
In July 2021, Westchester magazine named AJ’s Burgers “Best Dining with Kids” in its Best of Westchester edition.
All of which point back to the office space provided to Greco at New Rochelle Police Headquarters and the modification to the current contract to pay Greco dozens of days off each year to attended conferences and events where he promotes his non-profit which promotes his for-profit restaurant, and for time spent consulting with accountants and financial professionals while ostensibly working on grievances of union members.
Lots of blurring here — something for the Board of Ethics to consider as they peel back the onion on Christine Dodge and her relationship with Christopher Greco.