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Paying Mr. Doe -- Twice

The school board just learned it's been paying the salary and benefits for a custodian at the Dodge Avenue rental facility since 2004, while the exact same service is also factored into the rent.

School Superintendent Anthony Serio said he didn’t know.

The Board of Education collectively said it didn’t know.

And school finance director Jason Lathrop was mute about the board paying -- and not knowing it was paying -- the salary and benefits for someone to clean the school rental at 290 Dodge Ave., while the lease states the landlord will take care of all custodial and grounds work.

Instead, taxpayers have been unwittingly footing the bill -- roughly $205,000, with a ticking clock -- for the mystery employee’s keep since 2004. They're also footing the same custodial bill that's tucked into the rent check paid to the landlord, Giuseppe Piscitelli. Taxpayers have been paying twice for the same thing for over six years.

“I’m not very happy,” said Board of Ed Chair Nick Palladino. “I don’t mind paying for something with the taxpayers’ money, but not twice.” He demanded reimbursement.

Tuesday night, the school board with its attorney Mike Luzzi, who negotiated the Dodge Avenue leases, held a special meeting to discuss the reportedly newfound information. It was revealed that “John Doe,” as the mystery custodian is being called, is nowhere to be found on Lathrop’s 2010 payroll, according to a printout he gave to board members.

Still, Lathrop has been cutting Mr. Doe a paycheck every two weeks.

Board member Christine Maisano, an accountant, called for an immediate payroll audit. Board member Ray Pompano seconded her motion but upped it to a "forensic audit." The motion passed unanimously.

Mr. Doe’s salary has apparently been coming out of the teacher aides’ account though he’s a janitor, said Maisano. And though Doe is a janitor, he’s not a member of that union. And though he is paid as a teacher’s aide, he’s been getting full benefits while aides get none.

John Doe was unearthed last week as board members pored through the Dodge Avenue leases for Adult Ed and Pathways, a special ed program, to decide whether to sign a new contract. The Adult Ed lease expires Aug. 31, 2011; Pathways' on Sept. 11, 2012. The board spoke favorably over the last few months about bringing Pathways to the now-closed Hays Elementary School in a money-saving effort, and for Adult Ed to finish out the Pathways lease.

Board members had asked Serio several times this year if Piscitelli would lower the rent should Adult Ed take over the Pathways lease. The monthly rent for Pathways is $15,834; Adult Ed's is $21,629. According to the leases, those amounts include everything, including John Doe's job. Lathrop had said in an earlier meeting that housing Pathways at Hays would save taxpayers $13,334 a month. Lathrop said the only additional monthly expense at Hays would be $2,500 for custodial work.

(Last October, Serio sent Piscitelli two letters informing him that neither lease would be renewed. Piscitelli told Patch at that time that he was angry and would try to get Serio to change his mind. This past January, Serio asked the Board to reconsider renewing the leases.)

Maisano and board member Tia DePalma told Patch that all school jobs need board approval. They said according to their research, the board in 2004 when John Doe was hired was not asked for its approval. (Mr Doe had reportedly worked for Piscitelli in the same capacity from 2000-2004.) Asked who then would have hired John Doe, the women said it "had to have been" the then-superintendent, the late Martin DeFelice. Republican mayoral candidate John Finkle chaired the board at the time.

At its March 22 meeting, the school board conditionally approved a new lease giving Adult Ed Pathways' contract "pending some stipulations," said Palladino, such as "minor language changes."

And then John Doe fell into their laps.

"It's absolutely shocking," said member Kristin Vineyard.

"Based on tonight's findings, as finance chairwoman, I am more than ever convinced that there is a serious financial problem within the Board of Education," said Maisano, who has been wrestling with Lathrop for months to get the accounting books in order.

"I'm just stunned," said DePalma. "I'm totally stunned. My question is, if we have a person we did not know we were paying salary and benefits, are there any others?"

"Taxpayers of East Haven work very hard for their money and we as elected officials have an obligation to manage the finances with the utmost scrutiny," said Maisano. "These findings tonight are disturbing. The taxpayers deserve an answer."

"I think it's so sad because here we are talking finances again," said DePalma. "And if this prevents all-day kindergarten, that will be very said."

"This is another prime example of financial information being misrepresented to the board," said Maisano.

Attorney Luzzi said he would confer with Piscitelli's lawyer and get back to the board.

Rosie March 31, 2011 at 10:26 PM
No, I was not referring to you. I was referring to Gene and Dan. They are so far off the story it borders on comical. They are so busy going at each other that everyone is forgetting the important part of the story...like you said, getting some answers. As far as that goes, if this "custodian" was working a union position, without a civil service test, and the BOE was paying him, then I guarantee that grievences had to have been filed. If so, then a lot of people knew this was going on, including the BOE who handles employee grievences, as well as the superintendent, the personnel office, the union rep, and the head of buildings and grounds. Someone should see if any of this has happened. Just a thought...
Stan Wojnilo March 31, 2011 at 11:52 PM
Anybody want to bet that this "John Doe" is a relative of Piscitelli's?
Kenny Barber April 01, 2011 at 11:15 AM
Maybe its time for an independent authority to look at the Dodge Ave. theft of taxpayer monies. I think the State of Connecticut Attorney General's Office should look at this whole deal .
The Tissue Box April 01, 2011 at 01:57 PM
G-Money!!!!! I loved how Dan McCann wiped the floor with you once again. Seeing you get upset like you did made gave me such a hardy laugh. You are so easy to get at because everything he said about you is true and factual. I need to meet Dan McCann and shake his hand. He knows your game and he calls you on every lie you say on this board. The best on the board yesterday was you crying to Sharon. Hilarious!!! The Democratic Town Chairman crying to an editor. PRICELESS. Thank you Dan for the entertainment. You are a funny guy!
Stan Wojnilo April 01, 2011 at 03:11 PM
It'll be even funnier when the "do nothing" crony town jobs (Republican and Democrat) are permanently eliminated. I think a lot of these anonymous posters will then actually need to spend time looking for real work. Anybody willing to identify "John Dough" and confirm if he's a relative of Piscitelli's?
ASmith April 01, 2011 at 09:38 PM
Now I knows Mr. Dan you thinks Im a dum ole bucket of lard, but the youngsters taught me how to use this here internet. I went to the ole website for the State of CT and I looked up the BOE. Now it says on the State of CT website in our state law section number 10-220 that the BOE is responsible for the care, maintenance and operations of all the land and buildings that is used for school purposes. This mean to me that the BOE should know whos cleanin the buildins and whose a payin for it as well. The buck stops at the top, so you is tryin to tell me that Mr. Finxle who had to vote on this contract never read it and Mr. Crisci who was a the attorney for the BOE never read it and nobody on the BOE followed up to see what is goin on there? Sounds like bad managment on the part of the BOE at that time to me. If Mr. FInxle didnt do a good job watchin our money on the BOe hows he gonna do a good job in charge as Mayor. I not sayin there aint no fault with this group either. They took 4 yrs to stumble on this but Mr. Finxle turned a blind eye for a long time. And blamin this here poor fella that passed, aint right no way jose. Stand up and take responsibility. Gosh if a politician ever did that, I'd think I'd darn near fall over in shock. So go ahead and call me stupid, but a spades a spade and I call as I see em when they is dealt.
Rosie April 02, 2011 at 12:12 AM
Why have so many comments been deleted, yet Dan and Genes nonsense has been left?
Toni Ann Simiola April 02, 2011 at 12:47 AM
The town should just recoup the double payment from the landlord and move on to one of any number of pressing problems that seem to be coming to light lately.
Lisa April 02, 2011 at 01:34 AM
I know..all this is, is an immature pissing contest.
Rosie April 02, 2011 at 02:13 AM
It seems that anything even close to the truth seems to "disappear",because it hasn't been proven, but if Gene or Dan say it, it must be gospel and it stays. Even if it is complete nonsense. Oh well, it must be who you know. Of course, this is just my opinion...
Rosie April 02, 2011 at 02:19 AM
I agree, but I still think it needs to be investigated further. There must be more to this story, and who knew what. If a grievence was filed by the custodial union, then this was known by a lot of people. Does anyone know if there are any, and when they were filed? I'm not sure if this is public knowledge or not.
Toni Ann Simiola April 02, 2011 at 02:44 AM
Rosie, I do agree that this should be investigated further, but do we pay an outside concern to do that and waste more money or have the town administrators do it? All of the mismanagement in the town lately is very discouraging.
Dan McCann April 02, 2011 at 02:51 AM
Rosie, I may use satire in some of my comments however whether you believe it or not what I say it truthful and factual. I'm not asking for you to choose sides but stating facts is what Gene does not do. To actually blame someone without detail and evidence is what he does. I agree with you that a full investigation is warranted and that someone needs to be held to account. The problem as I see it is one person is already in the grave and another is closely tied to the Maturo Admininstration. My questions are many on this one but I think its important to start to ask where the problem lies, find the truth and not waste time on blaming people that had limited involvement.
Rosie April 02, 2011 at 03:07 AM
You are absolutely right. The administration in this town, both the town side and the BOE side are a joke. But if it is public record, it should be easy for the administration to find out. Actually, the BOE or Superintendents office should already know, as they are the ones who handle grievences. I was just wondering if anyone knew if this has been investigated. We may never know the truth. I think if any money isput out, it should be for convictions, as this is a crime. Let's see what is done about it.
Rosie April 02, 2011 at 03:15 AM
Dan, I actually believe more of what you say than him. I know that what he considers facts never tell the whole story, and he will never respond to anything that sheds some light on the truth behind this administration. He is all about bashing...very unappealing and childish. My point was that it did get a little out of control with the personal comments, and something should have been done to stop it, the same way other comments were deleted. Nothing personal. Any thoughts on my comment above? Maybe that's a good place to start, with the custodians union. I don't know much about how these things work, and if it is public record or not.
Dan McCann April 02, 2011 at 03:50 AM
Rosie To tell you the truth I think you have to start in two places. Building and Grounds and Finance. Obviously someone between these two departments knows this person exists. From there I would go to the Personnel Director for the BOE and look at this John Doe's HR record to see who his direct supervisor is. Once you have all of this in order you have a baseline to have a solid investigation on how, who and where. My hunch is that this was a quid pro quo which the former Superintendent was involved with. The only problem I see is we will only get one side of the story. Dead men tell no tales if you get my drift. So I don't know if we will ever get the full story. I certainly think the EHPD should do an investigation to see if anything criminal has been done. Dan
ASmith April 02, 2011 at 01:01 PM
Aint right to lay all the blame on someone whos passed and cant defend hiself. I hear he and Mr. Finxle were pretty close. Kinda find it hard to believe he hid this from him and Mr. Finxle had no clue. So Mr. Finxle is either guilty of knowin bout it or guilty of being real naive. Either way not good management of our coffers. This current people best get on this fast and get some answers. Who else is a gettin paid we dont know about?
Rosie April 02, 2011 at 02:01 PM
Thanks Dan. I can tell you this. I have asked some friends that work for the BOE and paychecks are delivered to the school or department that you are at. So, if the payroll dept. was cutting a check, it got delivered to that school. Which leads me to believe that someone knew he was getting a check. And if he was getting paid from the BOE, and he was getting paid from the landlord, I would think that would be a criminal offense. Like you said, we will probably never get the whole story, especially if this administration is found to have any knowledge. They never tell the truth. We will only hear about the "former administration", as usual.
Gene Ruocco April 03, 2011 at 06:25 PM
I agree 100% with your Known Solution for Political Deception. Read This. Let me know what you think. Education’s deficiencies in seven areas, such as not having a viable general ledger. Finkle said the same deficiencies have been cited year after year. As school board chair for 10 years and a member for 12, he said he was never concerned. “The bottom line was, we didn’t micromanage. We spent time on education,” said Finkle. “Did we have a ledger? No. But they didn’t have one for 25 years. Not having a ledger never caused a problem. It only became a problem when (Capone) came on and started to play around with the finances of the Board of Education.” Furthermore, Finkle said the school finance department didn’t have enough manpower to create and maintain a ledger. “You can only ask six people to do so much,” he said. Finkle said Republican Mayor Joe Maturo (1997-2007) kept his nose out of school business. “I had no political interference,” said Finkle. “Now (the board) is about politics and power. They do every single thing the mayor tells them to. I didn’t have letters from the mayor about the Dodge Avenue leases” or to merge maintenance operations. (Click here and here for background stories on the school rentals at 290 Dodge Ave. and here and here for stories on the proposed maintenance plan.) Very interesting and alarming.
Dan McCann April 03, 2011 at 11:07 PM
Gene, Where are these quotes from and when I "click here" nothing happens? There is no link.
StavenObserver April 03, 2011 at 11:19 PM
http://easthaven.patch.com/articles/finkle-mckay-at-the-starting-gate
Gene Ruocco April 03, 2011 at 11:47 PM
http://easthaven.patch.com/articles/finkle-mckay-at-the-starting-gate “PEOPLE HAVE TO BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE" How true.......... "Holy cow, we must really be in trouble. We are truly living on borrowed money,” Finkle said. “People have to be held accountable. We’re talking millions of dollars. East Haven is getting a bad reputation. Democrats have an open checkbook mentality. Republicans are frugal.” This also holds true for BOE Chairman, doesn’t it ???????????????
Dan McCann April 03, 2011 at 11:55 PM
StavenObserver thank you for sending the link. What I find alarming is not the article where you see Finkle and McKay talking about the BOE but what I have witnessed at the BOE meetings myself. Back in January I attend the BOE meeting and a very interesting question arose regarding invoices that were not paid from November 2010. BOE members were actually being told by certain vendors that they were not being paid. When the question was brought to Jason he confirmed that November invoices weren't paid because he was told by the Town not to pay them because there was shortfalls in the revenue. Now why is the BOE's budget being controlled by the Town? The Mayor's own words from Thursday said that the two entities are seperate and the Town has no say. So why is the Town telling the BOE what to pay and what not to pay? Is that what Finkle was talking about when he said he received no interference? Maybe he was competent enough not to need the Town to tell him what to do. Watching these meetings on TV I never ever see these BOE members discussing education matters they just bicker about every little detail. Under John Finkle test scores, CMT's and CAPT scores rose because he didn't micromange every little detail. He let the professionals handle the work. Mayor April and her administration are dictators and think they know better than everyone else and now look at our BOE. It's a total disaster.
I AGREE 100% April 04, 2011 at 01:21 AM
Dictatorship Versus Democracy http://www.allvoices.com/news/4015969/s/37707044-dictatorship-versus-democracy New London : CT : USA | Aug 27, 2009   Mayor April Capone Almon needs to understand the difference between dictatorship and democracy. We saw what happens when someone dares to express a view different than Mayor Capone Almon's-she eliminates them or, as Democratic Town Committee Chair Gene Roucco says, we “bumped” them off the ticket. http://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/politics/East-Haven-Mayor-Arrested-in-Towing-Flap- 57280187.html EAST HAVEN, Conn. -- The mayor of East Haven has been arrested on charges of interfering with police. Capone Almon said she tried calling the chief, then called the police department. She admitted to using strong language with the person on the phone and the officer on the scene.
I AGREE 100% April 04, 2011 at 01:27 AM
http://www.mayorsagainstillegalguns.org/html/members/members.shtml List of members of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition April Capone-Almon East Haven CT http://www.nhregister.com/articles/2010/05/14/news/metro/bb1ehmauro051410.txt?viewmode= East Haven official faces weapons charges 4Raffaele “Ralph” Mauro, a top East Haven official, was arrested Thursday on weapons charges following a two-month investigation, Branford police said. http://easthaven.patch.com/articles/mayor-punished-gallo-but-not-mauro Mayor Punished Gallo But Not Mauro
I AGREE 100% April 04, 2011 at 01:30 AM
Http://easthaven.patch.com/articles/mayor-violates-charter-to-settle-lawsuits Mayor Violates Charter To Settle Lawsuits http://video.wtnh.com/news/1998/june/062298housing.html Cofrancesco Blocked from Returning to Work New Haven's corporation counsel was turned away as she sought to reclaim the job she lost in the city's growing housing scandal. http://newhavenindependent.org/archives/2008/09/cofrancescos_re.php Cofrancesco’s Revenge
I AGREE 100% April 04, 2011 at 01:34 AM
Gene, Now can we get stop the politics and finger pointing and get down to solving the the real issues affecting our town. Good Night.,
Stan Wojnilo April 04, 2011 at 04:07 PM
New week. Unanswered Questions: Is John "Dough" still being paid by the town today? Who is John "Dough's BOE supervisor?" Is John "Dough" a relative is Piscitelli's? Did DeFilice or anybody else on the BOE have "free" or unaccounted paving or construction work done about 10 years ago when these leases were signed? Have the police been asked to investigate this matter?
Skip Thomas April 04, 2011 at 04:51 PM
Anyone else think it might BE Piscitelli?
Stan Wojnilo April 04, 2011 at 06:09 PM
Skip, It's possible I guess but I'm thinking it's a relative of his. Piscitelli has been and is making enough "Dough" on this deal to spread it around to his own. He would really have to be a "Stew Pidasso" to put the money into his own pocket.

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