West New York Town Attorney Donald Scarinci slammed the 2013 report done by the state’s Office of Fiscal Accountability and Compliance that said the mayor had “a hit list,” exclaiming that the transcripts made from employee interviews did not match what was in the final report.
The damning 23-page report, dated April 19, 2013, alleged that after conducting interviews with school employees, including former Superintendent of Schools John Fauta and his eventual successor Clara Brito Herrera, that politics played a huge role in the district.
One of the major allegations was that teachers were forced to buy political tickets to Mayor Felix Roque’s fundraisers in order to maintain their employment.
However, Scarinci painted an entirely different picture at today’s board of commissioners meeting, which was hosted at West New York Middle School.
He said that after suing the state last year to obtain copies of the audio tapes and transcripts that were the basis of the OFAC report, there were a number of major discrepancies between what was written in the report and what was actually said.
“He (Mr. Roth) was of the opinion that his purchases (of political tickets) were ‘the cost of doing business,'” the report states on page 17.
Yet, Scarinci noted that according to Roth’s interview with investigators, that isn’t what he said.
“Quoting Allan Roth: ‘the cost of doing business,’ said Allan Roth. “So, we look at the transcripts and the interview is recorded. Mr. Dettorre, Mr. Dettorre is one of the investigators, says quote, to Mr. Roth, ‘the cost of doing business?,’ leading question, he says,” Scarinci said during his PowerPoint presentation.
“Mr. Roth responds ‘no, just to support the mayor.’ Allan Roth never said that buying political tickets was the cost of doing business. Mr. Dettorre said that buying political tickets was the cost of doing business and Mr. Dettorre’s quote, not Mr. Roth’s quote, is what appeared in the OFAC report.”
Scarinci also noted that Roth, the assistant to the director of special education, never actually said he had anything to with the district’s hiring of former Commissioner Ruben Vargas and the same could be said of Herrera suggesting to hire Silvio Acosta’s wife – Silvio then being the deputy mayor.
The founding partner of powerhouse law firm Scarinci Hollenbeck’s biggest issue seemed to be with the fact that no one interviewed ever actually used the term “hit list,” not even Michelle Lopez – who is also a former town commissioner.
Scarinci added that according to the transcript, Lopez cited no instances were she was personally approached to buy political tickets for Roque.
After conducting an analysis on the tapes, transcripts and the state report, Scarinci sent an 11-page report to State Education Commissioner David Hespe asking for the rebuttal to be included with the original report.
After the meeting, Scarinci declined to speculate on what caused the OFAC report to turn out the way it did.
Conversely, Roque said he knew who was behind getting the report written the way it is, but declined to mention who that is.
A spokesman for the state Department of Education could not be reached this evening.