Republican councilmen Lou Trangucci and Richard St. Paul held a press conference today in front of city hall to call for a forensic audit of the city’s finances and the revocation of the pension of a former Department of Public Works supervisor who was indicted on fraud charges this week.
The two said that they believe others were involved with Richard Fevang, but the mayor and city manager disagreed.
City Manager Charles Strome III said that he was told by the Westchester County District Attorney's Office that Fevang acted alone.
“The D.A. said that this involved one individual and that the investigation is closed,” Strome said. “This happened under my watch and I am not happy it happened. I will take the steps to make sure that it will not happen again.”
Fevang, a former supervisor in New Rochelle’s department of public works, was indicted Tuesday on 66 fraud-related charges.
Fevang was charged with 22 felony counts of tampering with public records, 22 misdemeanor counts of official misconduct and 22 misdemeanor counts of falsifying business records.
The indictment alleged that Fevang influenced bids 22 times during a five-year period beginning on Sept. 9, 2005, and ending on Dec. 10, 2010.
He resigned from his position last week.
“We cannot afford to have this kind of thing in government,” St. Paul said. “I am very upset. If he is convicted the money should be returned through his pension. I think that those in power have to take responsibility in fixing the matter.”
St. Paul said that the incident needs to be investigated thoroughly and that there will be a city council meeting on July 7.
“This is an example of partisan theatrics during an election year,” Mayor Noam Bramson said. “The city’s books have been open and will remain open. We are not afraid of any review, but these implications are wrong.”
Bramson said that he is not making light of Fevang’s alleged crimes.
“I don’t minimize this issue,” he said. “We have no tolerance for it.”
The indictment alleged that Fevang prepared fake competitive bid summary reports to make it appear that a number of businesses were involved in the bidding process. However, unselected vendors that were named in reports were never contacted.
Fevang also submitted false documents, such as faxed documents to unselected vendors that were never faxed, to ensure that the process appeared to be run cleanly, according to officials. The indictment alleged that Fevang also directed his subordinates to help him with the process.
Officials did comment when asked if Fevang received any monetary gain.
Fevang, 65, was hired by the city in 1993 and had a past criminal history, officials said. But city officials said that they do not have any criminal records on Fevang or know what he was charged with.
Trangucci said he was told by Pat Pappalardi, a department of public works employee, of alleged fraud. Trangucci said he presented the information to the District Attorney’s Office before he went to city officials.
“I am deeply saddened to hear that some people were asleep at the wheel while taxpayers’ money was being taken for personal benefit,” Trangucci said.
“It was to my understanding that federal funds were not an issue,” Bramson said.
Strome said that he is not happy with the councilmen’s request.
“I find it disheartening,” he said. “I stand by the ethics of this team.”
Fevang is free on a set bail of $5,000 bond or $2,500 cash. He is set to appear in court on Sept. 28, 2011.