by Ted Carroll, Guest Columnist
Hot enough for you these days? Feel like a fly on the wall in one of those classic Tennessee Williams southern summer dramas? That’s good – whatta you say we take a break from the heat and stench of current Rye City Hall malfeasance and head over to Rye Golf Club where we can perhaps take a dive in the pool, pull up a lounge chair, and reflect on the quiet fleecing this 'gem of our city', according to Mayor Sack, recently sustained.
(PHOTO: FOIL'ed again.)
A fleecing that must have been known about by a certain class of politicos spanning multiple city administrations. A fleecing enabled by those very elected officials whose oath it was to oversee the senior city managers who circumvented our longstanding treasury protections empowering a fraudster clown to loot the enterprise fund, neglect the club and its members, and lie to us all repeatedly as the truth was being discovered.
What was possibly in it for our unpaid resident city leaders? Well, because the publicly paid-for forensic report actually telling us who, what and why is still being illegally suppressed by Mayor Joe Sack and the City Council, we are forced to engage in informed speculation based on evidence already uncovered. So with answers officially suppressed, let’s speculate. Why’d they do it? Greed. Who was involved? Apparently, quite a few people. How might they have benefited? Ah now that’s the right question. Maybe go grab an iced tea and let’s get started.
Green Eyeshade Stuff
Rye City’s internal financial controls were well equipped to prevent the occurrence of anything remotely like Mr. Scott Yandrasevich’s pathetically simple phony scheme which yielded him over $7M from our treasury. I used to personally test the internal controls as part of the city’s annual audit, so I know. Yandrasevich’s threadbare scam “staffing company” had no bids for its services, no contracts, no rate sheets, no public disclosures, and no questions asked. And payments for it’s supposedly ‘independent services’ were directed to Yandrasevich’s own moist and willing palms.
The worldwide hospitality industry is gigantic and it includes the segments of food and beverage, lodging, recreation, and travel and tourism. Billions change hands in each of these segments annually. And because bad actors are attracted to every business on earth, there are a lot of hospitality industry fraudsters and a pile of established procedures and internal and external auditors to prevent their success.
Solo hospitality frauds feature dishonest individuals evading controls and procedures without collusion with another human being. Crooked comptrollers and larcenous food and beverage directors fall in this category. Rye Golf Club’s fraud was certainly not a solo hospitality fraud as wholesale changes to existing citywide internal control procedures had to be made and authorized at the highest levels. See my commentary column from last month showing who likely had to be involved and which elected officials helped them cover it up.
Friends of Fraud?
So then the question remains, what was in it for Mr. Yandrasevich’s resident co-conspirators working in elected or appointed public positions? In these things it’s usually a just split of hard cold purloined cash. But if you believe the official Westchester County District Attorney’s office investigation there was apparently no record of cash changing hands between Mr. Yandrasevich’s multi-talented crew and any other local resident elected, appointed or salaried city official. I’m not sure everyone believes that but for the moment lets set it aside. Ask yourself then, what was in it for the fraud’s local facilitator’s and how could they be tangibly compensated for protecting unlawfully circumvention and or outright collusions for years?
Well – there are some…
Take for instance, the wine cases discovered during the physical inventory count taken just after Mr. Yandrasevich vacated his RGC premises. Someone personally involved in the count informed me that “several dozen” cases of extremely rare wine were discovered at the Chateau, er Castle which no one had ever seen on any wine list or menu. No record of its arrival was found in any purchase orders or receipts. When the inventory count concluded someone plugged the name and vintage into the internet and then the word went out – at wholesale the vintage was ‘lafit-ed’ at around $365 dollars – per bottle.
How were these cases of extraordinarily costly secret vintage used when the municipal club members (and regular taxpayers of the city) had no idea it existed, or that they had all collectively paid for it? The answer may well be that it was quietly distributed – among other even larger private food and beverage ‘benefits’ – and in lieu of cash – to those who helped originate, conceal and continue the fraud.
Among the residents of our tiny upscale hamlet are several politicians who collectively hold dozens of public and private fund raising constituent ‘outreach’ hospitality events every year. They include a sitting County Legislator, a NY State Assemblyman, and a NY State Senator. Our former Rye City Corporation Counsel, the city’s former head lawyer when the circumvention was originated, is a high ranking member of New York’s ‘Pataki Machine’ and today he works for Rob Astorino as the Westchester County Deputy County Executive. I described how two of these politicos were constructively shielded by resident elected officials from any mention in the official fraud investigation summary in my previous commentary. That, as a ‘tell’ in a fraud of this size and scope is significant and troubling. And none of these elected or appointed officials said a public word about the fraud as citizens fought prior city hall records suppression gambits over months and months. Which brings us lastly to –
The Queen’s Cocktail Party
How could a senior paid Rye public official arrange a 5 Star Send-Off retirement party for her predecessor at an unbelievably low price? Well – maybe by hiring Scott Yandrasevich to produce it, and then by apparently making sure to invite all the right people. As previously reported by LausDeo10580, just such an exclusively swank open bar, pricy hors d’oeuvres hospitality event actually took place and left its footprints. And it was literally called The Queen’s Cocktail Party.
Attached with permission is the text of the prior story and some of the attachments it carried.
Be sure to see the names on the invited guest list. Anybody spending even 5 minutes walking around at an event like that could have guessed that the $20 they each paid for their ticket didn’t come close to covering the tab. But stay and enjoy it many apparently did.
So when the whistle first blew on Mr. Yandrasevich it must have been a dreadful sound. Many of The Queen’s celebrants joined the ‘nothing to see here’ movement until they were overwhelmed. Some, like our current city attorney and past city manager and past city clerk, actively mislead the public about public records available including a lie under oath to a court. And all the while our current resident County Legislator, NY State Assemblyman and NY State Senator stood and stand mute. Perhaps to prevent further footprints.
Are you looking forward to election season?
Read more here – The Five Letter F Word.
Ted Carroll is a lifelong Rye resident, a Certified Public Accountant, and a partner at Noson Lawen Partners, a media industry private equity firm.
See some of Carroll’s other 2016 MyRye.com commentaries here: