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Ex-Schools Director Indicted For Bribery In White Plains

The federal courthouse in White Plains.
The federal courthouse in White Plains. Photo Credit: Suzanne Samin
U.S. District Attorney Joon Kim.
U.S. District Attorney Joon Kim. Photo Credit: U.S. Attorney's Office
The New Rochelle Board of Education.
The New Rochelle Board of Education. Photo Credit: File
New Rochelle High School.
New Rochelle High School. Photo Credit: File

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- John Gallagher Jr., the former New Rochelle Schools Director who was embroiled in a four-year corruption scheme, was arraigned in White Plains Court on an indictment for bribery on Wednesday.

Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York Joon Kim announced the arrest and indictment of Gallagher for alleged corruption in public contracting in connection to an independent contractor, which did business with the New Rochelle School District for years.

Gallagher was charged with one count of bribery and was scheduled to be arraigned in the United States Courthouse in White Plains on Wednesday. He will face up to 10 years in prison. Kim also announced that Mauro Zonzoni, a former contractor for the district had pleaded guilty to two counts of bribing a public official and tax evasion. He is due to be sentenced later this year when he will face a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.

According to the school district, Gallagher was an employee of Aramark Management Services, which held contracts to provide the district with facilities management service dating back to the 1980s. The indictment states that between 2009 and 2013, Gallagher received more than $150,000 in kickbacks from the independent contractor.

District officials dismissed Gallagher and the entire on-site Aramark team for “unsatisfactory management and supervision” in July 2014. When the current administration was brought in, they “remained unsatisfied,” and the Aramark contract was terminated in its entirety on June 30 last year. The district now handles facilities management internally.

“A school district official should be doing what is best for our children and their education," Kim stated. "Instead, as alleged, John Gallagher demanded and received more than $150,000 in kickbacks and bribes from a contractor for the school district."

The independent contractor did construction work for the district for several years “as the low bidder on annual time and materials bids for repair and construction services,” though he too was dismissed in 2013 because officials were “generally dissatisfied with the performance of time and materials contractors, and the use of time and material bids.”

“The school district has been cooperating with the United States Attorney’s Office in its investigation for approximately the last 18 months, (making) voluminous records available to assist the prosecutors with their work,” officials said in a statement. “We will continue to cooperate and assist with the government investigation and prosecution.

“The school district and the Board of Education fully support the government’s efforts to root out public corruption, which victimizes the public and 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.”

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