In the wake of the 66-count indictment of Department of Public Works employee Richard Fevang, several city officials issued written statements about the case on Wednesday. Excerpts of some of these statements will appear in a story in Thursday’s edition of The Journal News. Below are those statements in full. In some cases, minor grammatical mistakes have been corrected, though no words have been added or removed. The statements appear after the jump. …
City Councilman Louis Trangucci:
“I am deeply saddened to hear that some people were asleep at the wheel while taxpayers’ money was being taken for personal benefit by an employee who should have never been hired in the first place.
“That this employee’s misconduct, going back to 2001, was allowed to continue unabated for a decade or more is disturbing.
“I want to thank the hard-working men and women 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.
“I wand 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 standing here today to discuss a 66-count fraud indictment against Richard Fevang. The citizens of New Rochelle owe you a great deal of gratitude.”
City Councilman Richard St. Paul:
“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. 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 incident 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. 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 the proper safeguards are in place to make sure something like this never happens again but that cannot happen with a full internal investigation conducted by people other than those who were meant to responsible [sic] that the Fevang Fraud did not happen.
“As funds used to carry out this fraud include federal dollars and the parties involved crossed state lines, I am asking that the U.S. Attorney investigate this matter.
“If Mr. Fevang is convicted his pension should be revoked and in turn returned to the city treasury to pay back the taxpayers.
“To echo Councilman Trangucci, I want to thank the hard-working employees of the City of New Rochelle. These are men and women get up [sic] every morning to work hard to make this city a better place. I want to thank them for their service to the community and make clear to them 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 Manager Charles Strome III:
“I do not ordinarily comment on matters of this kind but I cannot allow the statements and implications made this morning go unanswered.
“The entire City Council has known about this matter for months and not one member has ever suggested any additional administrative, legal or investigative action. The City Council is aware that the City Administration cooperated fully and completely with the District Attorney.
“The City Council is aware that the Administration takes matters of ethical misconduct very seriously and is always prepared to take strong disciplinary action whenever and wherever such misconduct is discovered. Most importantly, the City Council is fully aware that we withheld disciplinary action in this matter at the suggestion of the District Attorney and the entire City Council agreed to that course of action.
“The City Council is fully aware that the charges here concern only a single municipal employee in the Department of Public Works. In fact, the District Attorney has advised us that the investigation of this matter is closed and that no other City employees are suspected of misconduct.
“I am extremely proud of the professionalism of the men and women with whom I work, and I will stake their ethics against anyone’s. New Rochelle’s City government is an open book. Our meetings, budgets and auditors reports are and have always been available to the public and we are not afraid of any review by any authority.
“For anyone to imply that a federal investigation is required without the presentation of any evidence impugns the integrity of hundreds of honest individuals who work hard every day to serve our City. The City’s use of federal funds is regularly audited by our independent auditors and has also been audited by federal auditors. And, for over 20 years no financial irregularities have been found.”
Mayor Noam Bramson:
“When it comes to matters of law and ethics, the City of New Rochelle has no tolerance for any misconduct or abuse of the public trust. Those who violate the law should be held fully accountable. No excuses. No exceptions.
“That is why from day one the city cooperated fully with the District Attorney on this investigation, and it is why we treat any credible allegation of wrongdoing with the utmost seriousness.
“This morning’s performance from the Republicans, however, is not at all serious and has nothing to do with law or ethics, and everything to do with election year politics. It is apparent that the Republicans intend to run a negative campaign of attacks and innuendo—and, even though this matter concerns the actions of a single individual, they are willing to smear hundreds of people to achieve their political goals.
“The public has no patience for these sorts of partisan theatrics. I intend to remain focused on the important challenges and opportunities confronting our city, and I will keep offering a positive vision for our community’s future.”