Monday, March 17, 2014

(UPDATED) Former THA employees plead guilty to fraud

MEISSNER

I remember when the scandal at the Troy Housing Authority was first unraveling. Four years ago, then vice chair of the board, Jay Vandenburgh, came into the office with what amounted to a shoe box of paperwork outlining how then Executive Secretary Bill Meissner was cooking the books – so to speak.

The pile of paperwork may have looked like a disorganized mess but Vandenburgh knew there was something up in regards to Meissner’s vacation time and with his comptroller, Roger Rosenthal’s pension.

Two years later, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli put the entire thing together in a neat little package and handed it off to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman who Monday announced the two had plead guilty to defrauding the pension system and have to pay back $63,517.41.

Honestly, I thought they forgot about the whole thing and was as surprised as anyone, including Vandenburgh, to hear of the settlement. Not because the two weren’t guilty of something but because it took four years to come to a conclusion. Here is a column I wrote about the whole thing two years ago.

It could have been worse for Meissner and Rosenthal too but they hired one of the best attorneys in the city, E. Stewart Jones, and they struck a deal rather than face more serious penalties including outright theft of vacation time. If I recall correctly, Meissner used to take vacation, claimed he worked during them so they weren’t really vacations and then reimbursed his unused vacation time for cash -including the time he took a trip to the Caribbean for his daughter’s wedding.

In the end, the two former THA officials plead guilty to fabricating and backdating a contract in an attempt to show that Rosenthal, who retired from the THA in 2005, was working within the pension system parameters. The contract they fabricated, however, had letterhead that wasn’t even used by the THA until three years after the date the “contract” was signed. Yes, that is the epitome of #troycrazy.  

It wasn’t all Vandenburgh, Executive Secretary Dan Crawley took over for Meissner and when he went to the THA he brought with him city Comptroller Deborah Witkowski – who knows numbers, money and spread sheets like an 80-year-old bookie but is honest as the day is long.

Meissner and Rosenthal really had no chance, yet Meissner came out swinging against Vandenburgh.

There was some scuttlebutt by the commenters on who appointed who and if I recall correctly then Executive Secretary Mario Musolino, a Democrat hired by a board appointed by Mayor Mark Pattison, hired Meissner as comptroller. After Musolino went back to the state, Meissner was appointed acting executive secretary, by a board headed up by Republican Vince Jimino, and then he brought aboard Rosenthal. As one commenter astutely put it – Meissner was keeping the seat warm until Crawley was ready to make the jump from City Hall to the THA.

Anyway, good for Schneiderman and DiNapoli for following through with what Vandenburgh, Crawley and Witkowski uncovered. It took them four years but at least they got some of the public’s money back.  

Below is the press release by Schneiderman and DiNapoli:

A.G. Schneiderman And Comptroller DiNapoli Announce Guilty Pleas By Former Troy Housing Authority Employees Who Tried To Defraud New York State Retirement System
Roger Rosenthal, Former Comptroller For The Housing Authority, Conspired With William Meissner To Submit Forged Documents

Rosenthal Collected Pension While Earning More Than $200,000 From The Housing Authority
TROY — Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli announced today that William Meissner and Roger Rosenthal, former Troy Housing Authority employees, pled guilty to defrauding the New York State Retirement System (NYSRS).

Rosenthal retired from the Troy Housing Authority in 2005 and began collecting a full pension with the NYSRS, then went back to working as a supposed ‘consultant’ with the Authority, collecting more than $200,000 in a three-year period in addition to the pension. 

When the validity of Rosenthal’s ‘consulting’ arrangement with the Housing Authority was questioned, Rosenthal and Meissner submitted a falsified, backdated contract in an effort to cover the illegal retirement payments.   As part of today’s plea agreement, Meissner and Rosenthal have paid New York State Retirement System $63,517.41 in restitution.

The case stems from a report produced jointly by the State Comptroller’s office and the U.S. Housing and Urban Development - Office of Inspector General and is a product of the Joint Task Force on Public Integrity, a cooperative effort between the offices of Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and Comptroller Thomas P DiNapoli that seeks to root out public corruption and maximize the resources of each office.

“These men abused the public trust, defrauded the New York State Retirement System, and harmed both taxpayers and retirees,” said Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman. “I applaud Comptroller DiNapoli for referring this case to our office and for his continuing work in our partnership to ensure that those who defraud taxpayers are held accountable.”

“This case is about pure greed and Mr. Rosenthal scamming the retirement system by unlawfully double-dipping to collect $63,517,” State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli said. “He and his accomplice, Mr. Meissner, were thwarted by the swift actions of my office in partnership with the HUD Inspector General and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. As a result of our joint efforts, we exposed the crime and have recovered the money stolen from the retirement system.”

“The arrests and charges today of Mr. Rosenthal and Mr. Meissner serve to remind the taxpayer that law enforcement will continue to pursue corruption, in all forms, especially those that impact the integrity of housing authorities overseen by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban

Development. It is especially disappointing to learn that Mr. Rosenthal and Mr. Meissner used their positions with the Troy Housing Authority to facilitate their greed while the public reeled from the economic challenges of that time. We wish to thank the New York State Comptroller's Office and the New York State Attorney General's Office for their perseverance and steadfast efforts in ensuring a just conclusion to this matter,” said Christina Scaringi, Special Agent in Charge, Northeast Region, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – Office of Inspector General.
Rosenthal and Meissner entered guilty pleas to Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument, a class A misdemeanor, with intent to defraud the New York State Retirement System.

This matter was handled by Colleen Glavin and Stacy Aronowitz of the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Bureau. The Bureau is part of the Criminal Justice Division, led by Executive Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice Kelly Donovan.

72 comments:

  1. Another failure from the Tutunjian administration. Thanks for the reminder.

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    1. I think he was hired by Supier Mario under mark p. Harry only let him keepi the seat warm for Crawley

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    2. With all the accusations about the dems and corruption it's the repubs again getting convicted. The city votes democrat because they know that Harry and his cronies are corrupt and they also know that Wade and his convicted servants are just as bad. This is why Rodney, Ken, Bob and Anastasia will lead this city. Throw the rest out.

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    3. Thanks Bobby. Wear the tin foil hat to their next fundraiser. U b a pilayaaaa

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    4. I would take my bets on Rodney, Ken, Bob and Anastasia will lead this city 100% Correct.
      Its time to clean house and get these back stabbers out of Troy.
      Kopka has Clearley showed no Leadership Gelumpsky is a stool Sample looking for a place to happen.
      The other Sullivan is clearley Nuts and Chicken Food and Gordon is a wanna be Goofball.

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    5. @1:24 have you been taking your meds? Rodney, Ken, Bob and Anastasia- give me a break. You will lose miserably on that bet. Rodney just wants to be Mayor and is pleasing whomever will get him elected into the big office, Ken is riding out his last term, Bob is Lou's best napping buddy who can be duped into creating idiotic and redundant legislation and Anastasia is just a cover for the alliance, you don't really believe she is there for Troy do you? If you believe any different you better wake up and smell the sewers because the sh*t is starting to back-up.

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  2. Jay fought to keep Meisner after he fought to hire him

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    1. No Vince fought to keep Meisner after he fought to hire him.

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  3. Good now they can have Vandenburgh investigate the Scolite sale and some of the city powers to be can go to jail next.

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  4. Vince Jimino hired Messiner and vote against firing him.

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  5. Don't let the facts spoil your argument. The previous administration couldn't be bought, threatened, or extorted. Good over evil. Scolite proves this administration is the opposite.

    http://www.troyrecord.com/general-news/20120808/documents-audit-investigation-reveal-financial-abuses-by-former-tha-officials

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    1. This is telling "The board's vice chair, Jay Vandenburgh, who Rosenthal blamed for exposing the irregularities in 2010, did not want to comment.". Vandenburgh was the vice chair, who was the chairman? Vince Jimino, and who got removed along with Messnier and Rosenthal....Vince Jimino. How did he avoid prosecution?

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    2. Just a slight clarification in the Record article, it wasn't Meissner who approached Crawley and Tutunjian about extending his contract in exchange for hiring Witkowski, it was Jimino.and it was Jimino's idea. That's why even with his wife being the most powerful elected republican in the county Crawley through him out and fired him. He hasn't seen a Christmas card since.

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    3. And why was the Board of the THA so asleep at the wheel? They were appointed by Mayor Tutunjian. Anyone want to weigh in on that?

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  6. Let's all sit back and wait for Kathy Jimino to tell us this is an unfunded mandate.

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  7. #troycrazy? Aren't you trendy, Jim. Troy is firmly on the upswing, and all the trolls and hangers-on from the previous administration can't stand it, because they had nothing to do with it. Sad that you feel the need to jump on the sour-grapes, loser bandwagon. There's always Schenectady County. Don't let the door hit you on the ass on the way out.

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    1. "Firmly on the upswing"? Outside of Vic's place and the false promises what is the upswing? Filthy dirty streets? Neighborhoods crumbling? Record number of vacant properties? Get a grip and a little slice of reality.

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    2. Are you talking about Troy,NY? The corruption and mismanagement going on in this administration is beyond disgusting! And I'm a democrat! You are obviously part of the problem, friend or associate of the dems trying to line their own pockets and leading the city to be the biggest laughing stock of the area. Worse than Schenectady!

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    3. I see Jessica replacement has punched in and got right to work on his first day.

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    4. #troycrazy but the administration doesn't read it. Right. They also don't listen to WDGJ 1300. They don't watch the news. They also don't read this blog. They just hired someone who's whole job is to combat social media. We are officially in re-election mode. Mike the magnificent will be stepping up the assault on all you bloggers and tweeters.

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    5. Vince jimino stepped down from the board 12/2010. He was not fired.

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    6. Thanks vinny

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  8. Is it still news if the former spokesperson shows the twins?

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    1. No, we've advanced and matured beyond puberty. Go find some porn, just make sure to do it on your city computer.

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  9. City hall is Bill Dunne wearing the camo sweater today? He's still hiding from that TU reporter. What's he want Bill? Why so scared?

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    1. Valente? Scolitr? The auditors complaint form?

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    2. He's investigating why a city dept head is not allowed on dormitory authority property

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  10. Time is a flat circle.

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  11. Jay V. has redirected his investigative prowess on the Malaysian airliner mystery.

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  12. Yes I have...and the only thing I can tell you is wherever the Airliner is the left directional is still blinking !!

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  13. He is investigating why dunne doesn't return calls as well

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    1. Too busy blogging

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    2. Word is city hall lost access to this page because zba chair complained of dunnes use of the page.

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    3. To be fair Bill did talk to me on the phone when I asked questions about Scolite.

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    4. Anytime u want

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    5. Jay, is spot zoning in Troy legal?

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  14. The new spokesperson is the old spokesperson with a new hair cut. Come one guys. They pulled a fast one

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  15. Let me put the Scolite sale or lease what ever it is into a nut shell for everyone. Valentie gets the property troy gets all the trash and garbage from New York City. We already are getting the 2 legged trash now we get the 2% 'er garbage. So any council person that votes for this proposal come next election all the republicans will have there picture taken at the site that Valentie will have sold by then for there Palm cards and there won't be a democrat elected and Lou and Pete will be out on there asses. That's a fact Jack.

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  16. It's public record a favored builder in troy will try to cram 3 houses on a lot in north troy Would don fane live like that I ask myself?

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    1. Your planning rock star

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    2. Those 3 houses will be on the tax rolls bill. Will Scolite go on the taxs rolls when you lease it to Valentie? No it won't Bill. The only way Scolite goes on the tax roll bill is to sell it which you are not doing. Why will it take up to 10 years to sell it bill? People realize that fishy smell bill it's not the river that smells bill it this project that smells bill.

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    3. Let's say the state doesn't sign off on the sale of Scolite then is Mr Valentie going to donate the improvements that he has invested into the property to the city of Troy? What happens in the 10 years if the state says no? Does Mr Valentie vacate the property in 15 days? Is the city on the hook to for reimbursement of mr Valentie investment ? How much money does the proposal say that Mr Valentie is going to invest into the property? Would love to hear from Assemblyman McDonald about how long this should take. I'm sure he will be there Thursday night to answer question from the council. Would someone ask what is the financial benefit to the city of Troy if this takes several years? This is no more than a J. Wellington Wimpy deal "I would gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.

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  17. Gotta love old smokey in the assessors office. Can't answer a question about taxes but will run your back for a cig. No food tho please

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  18. Legend has it if you get to city hall as the sun rises you will see Sheeran at the break of dawn remove his slippers and put on his high tops while cherry pie plays in the background. Kind if a mr Rodgers moment.

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  19. After reading all the posts maybe 3 are right abouy what happened at THA.

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    1. Jay, did Vince sign Meissner's vaction exchange vouchers?

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    2. Jay, that's bullspit. Who signed off on Rosenthal's contract and Meissner's vacation vouchers? THA board chairman Jimino or Vice chairman Vandenburgh. Either man up or shut the f*ck up. This ain't no Bob Cox you're dealing with now. You're no hero, just another hack.

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    3. Wow what a tough guy you are.

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    4. Jay, Jay, Jay where are you Jay?

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  20. Fact: Sheeran has Kip Wingers red bandanna worn during the filming of the music video " Seventeen ". He wears it to the All Troy Club once a year along with his Night Ranger jean jacket.

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  21. This deal is unbelievable, I have to give Dunn credit for putting it together. A paltry sum of 100,000 to get access to the Hudson River waterfront to import and export whatever he wants. No taxes, no upfront costs. In the last meeting they even said the he was "Piggy Backing " on the city's improvement funds for the grass, fences those barbeques we are all going to be using!. Oh he is piggy backing all right, the Troy taxpayers will be squealing from it! Any council person that doesn't have a conscience or a brain or a desire to be re elected, sign on here! Lou will be retired in Florida golfing and you will be here with a label of being the fools that were hood winked by Bill Dunn and his cronies and approved this ridiculous deal. Shame on all of you.

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    1. Bill swore to me there will be no garbage.

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    2. Lou will be retired in Florida golfing What ?

      Hunch Back Lou Golfing what ever you say.

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    3. Jay, you're out of your league here.

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    4. Conflict of interest working there I would say

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    5. What league is this jack leg in. Only person bring troy into Stone Age is vandenburgh and bill chamberlain. PolitcL hack be gone soon that's a fact jack

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  22. So Bill Dunne thinks this is a good idea. That enough for me then. Vote no

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  23. Who's the tall computer guy that works at city floor?

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    1. He has a nice smile when he's relaxed and not stressed out.

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    2. He's the doorman on the weekends at the building north of the bridge on river street.

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    3. River street club?

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    4. It also rumored he is the one to take tspin away from hightops skittles and dunne

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    5. The place that has "pizza and porn" night?

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  24. There you go folks. Know not only are the citizens of the city of Troy not going to get paid for the Valentie/Scolite deal we are going to pay for his driveway to work. We are going to Bond to borrow money for a road to this project. Part of a $350,000.00 a year payment on the loan.

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    1. 30yrs x $350,000 = $10,500,000.................someone is lying

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  25. Everyone in South Troy get ready for Lynn to vote for truck traffic tonight.

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