NEW YORK, NY — John C. Gallagher, Jr., an Aramark executive and former Director of Facilities for the City School District of New Rochelle was taken into custody Tuesday by federal agents in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. following a Grand Jury Indictment on charges related to bribery.
Gallagher’s arrest came after years of reporting by Talk of the Sound on criminal activities in the school district involving Aramark, outside construction contractors and district employees. Robert Cox, Publisher of Talk of the Sound, approached the United States Department of Justice in 2013 with thousands of pages of records and other information after numerous efforts to engage the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office failed.
Gallagher will make an initial appearance in Harrisburg Federal Court in Pennsylvania on Tuesday afternoon. He will be brought to White Plains Federal Court in New York for arraignment, likely tomorrow, according to the press office of the U.S. Department of Justice Southern District.
According to the indictment, filed on May 15, 2017 but sealed until a few moment ago:
From in or about 2009, through in or about 2013, JOHN C. GALLAGHER, JR., the defendant, engaged in a corrupt, criminal scheme, in which he solicited, demanded, and accepted bribes in the form of cash payments, intending to be influenced and rewarded in connection with the School District's business and transactions with CC-1's Company.
The indictment states “a co-conspirator not named as a defendant herein ("CC-1"), owned and wholly controlled a construction company in Westchester County ( "CC-1' s Company") . CC-1' s Company was contracted with the School District to do masonry work, and was hired each year by the School District as its time and materials contractor for masonry work.
CC-1 is Mauro Zonzini of Zonzini Masonry and Zonzini Pipeline.
The indictment continues:
The bribe payments that JOHN C. GALLAGHER, JR., the defendant, solicited, demanded, and accepted were paid by CC-1. Routinely, after the School District paid CC-1's Company for work performed, GALLAGHER met in person with CC-1 in a parking lot, where CC-1 provided GALLAGHER with a kickback in the amount of ten percent of the payment CC-1's Company had received from the School District. In this way, GALLAGHER received dozens of cash bribe payments from CC-1, over the course of at least 3 approximately four years, which together amounted to more than $150,000.
The indictment reveals that Gallagher admitted to the bribery scheme in secretly recorded conversations. Sources tell Talk of the Sound that Zonzini was brought from his home in South Carolina to make “controlled phone calls” to Gallagher to capture incriminating conversations on tape.
Gallagher admitted meeting Zonzini in a parking lot and receiving cash bribes amounting to 10% of what the City School District of New Rochelle paid to Zonzini. Gallagher said he stored cash payments in his car and used the money to pay credit card bills, college tuition and other personal expenses.
During the period between 2009 and 2013, Gallagher received cash bribe payments in excess of $150,000 from Zonzini. Under the indictment, Gallagher faces prison time and forfeiture of “any and all property, real and personal, that constitutes or is derived from proceeds traceable to the commission of said offense,”
Talk of the Sound has previously reported on similar schemes involving T & G Electric, F & L Flooring, George Wood Plumbing, Wager Construction and other area construction companies.
Robert Cox provided extensive information to the U.S. Department of Justice on corruption in the City School District of New Rochelle, the City of New Rochelle, the New Rochelle Police Department, the New Rochelle Municipal Housing Authority, and other government agencies in Westchester starting in 2013. A year later, in 2014, Cox was arrested by the New Rochelle Police Department and prosecuted by the Westchester County DA on bogus charges. Now you know why.
New Rochelle Board of Education did not respond to a request for comment or a statement.
Aramark did not respond to a request for comment or a statement.
As expected, the City School District of New Rochelle has issued a duplicitous, self-serving statement. We will address the misleading formulation in a future article but for now here is their official statement:
District Statement Regarding Arrest and Indictment of Former ARAMARK Employee
May 23, 2017
The United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York has announced the arrest and indictment of John Gallagher for alleged corruption in public contracting in connection with an independent contractor. John Gallagher was an employee of ARAMARK Management Services Limited Partnership, which for many years starting in the mid-1980’s held contracts to provide the School District with facilities management services. The indictment alleges that Mr. Gallagher received more than $150,000 in bribes (kickbacks) between 2009 and 2013 from an independent contractor which did business with the School District.
The School District has been cooperating with the United States Attorney’s Office in its investigation for approximately the last eighteen months, and has made voluminous records available to assist the prosecutors with their work. We will continue to cooperate and assist with the Government’s investigation and prosecution.
In July of 2014, the School District advised ARAMARK that it wished to replace Mr. Gallagher and the rest of the on-site ARAMARK team for unsatisfactory management and supervision. New ARAMARK personnel were provided, but the new School District administration remained unsatisfied, and the ARAMARK contract was terminated in its entirety effective June 30, 2016. Facilities management is now provided by highly-qualified School District personnel.
The contractor in question did repair and construction work for the School District for a number of years prior to 2014 as the low bidder on annual time and materials bids for repair and construction services. The School District ceased doing business with the contractor in question in 2013; and because the School District was generally dissatisfied with the performance of time and materials contractors, the use of time and materials bids was discontinued in 2014.
Since 2014, the School District has been operating under a new management team, including a new Superintendent of Schools, a new Assistant Superintendent for Business and Administration, a new Director of Environmental Facilities, and a new independent claims auditor.
The School District and the Board of Education fully support the Government’s efforts to root out public corruption, which victimizes the public and the citizens we serve, and steals from our students. If convictions or guilty pleas are obtained, the School District will be vigorous in pursuing any malefactors for damages sustained due to any corrupt activities.