$15,000 OF COPY PAPER NOT NEEDED JUST LEFT TO ROT IN BASEMENT OF ELEMENTARY SCHOOL.
For the past few weeks, Mount Vernon Exposed has been informing the citizens of Mount Vernon about the rampant stealing of funds and corruption within the Mount Vernon City School District. Millions of dollars stolen are only numbers to some, but thousands of lives have been destroyed by the behavior of Len Sarver, Joseph McGrath, Judith Johnson, and Tim Costello.
Mount Vernon Exposed has learned during our investigation that Mount Vernon School officials are negligent and reckless when it comes to spending public funds.
Mount Vernon Exposed has learned that School Superintendent Judith Johnson has brought her corrupt ways to the City of Mount Vernon School district. Mount Vernon Exposed Investigators have learned that thousands of Language Arts books were ordered at the direction of Johnson. The Language Arts books in question have either been doubled ordered or just not needed. The books in question are just lying around various schools in the district. Sources have told Mount Vernon Exposed that Judith Johnson has a close, personal relationship with the Language Arts vendor. Is Johnson getting a commission for purchasing these books? Has Johnson disclosed this conflict of interest to school board trustees?
Mount Vernon Exposed investigators have uncovered additional acts of fraud, waste, and abuse by Mount Vernon school officials. Mount Vernon Exposed has learned that approximately $15,000 or copy paper is sitting in an elementary school basement just rotting away. School officials have no intention of using the paper. Since the copy paper was paid for by and belongs to the taxpayers, the copy should be distributed to students in need. Did Johnson benefit financially from this copy paper delivery?
Any school system is the lifeblood of the community they educate. A good school system educates children, and prepares them to be productive members of society. A good school system helps to prevent welfare, gangs, and jailed citizens. A good school system also insures that property values remain stable. Mount Vernon has the highest property taxes in the nation, and one of the worst school systems in the state of New York. Mount Vernon also has the worst ratio of property taxes to property values in the state.
How does such an enormous school budget of $230 million dollars produce such bad results? Because of greediness, school officials continue to pilfer tax dollars while putting children’s lives in danger. The children and taxpayers are the real victims of this heist.
In recent weeks, Mount Vernon Exposed has met with dozens of the over 500 families in tax foreclosure. There are hundreds more homes in bank foreclosure, because people are not able to pay their property taxes. Mount Vernon has one of the highest rates of foreclosures in the nation. Hundreds of homes in Mount Vernon are abandoned. Men, woman, and children have been put out on the street because of the corrupt acts of Superintendent Judith Johnson, School Board Vice President Len Sarver, Assistant Superintendent of Business Timothy Costello and Chief Technology Officer Joseph McGrath. These individuals, already receiving more salary than they should, have decided that their high six figure paychecks cannot satisfy their lifestyle, so they have decided to loot the school coffers.
However, the biggest crime is being done to the children of Mount Vernon, because they are not being properly educated. With $230 Million per year being sucked out of the pockets of taxpayers, Mount Vernon has the second worst school district in the state. Some schools have 75% or more students performing below grade level, and most of our children do not graduate. With a school budget of $230 million, Mount Vernon School district should have the best schools in New York State.
Twenty years ago, Mount Vernon had great schools and low taxes. What happened? Monies paid by taxpayers never make it to the classroom. Instead, it ends up in the pockets of crooked school officials. Len Sarver, Joseph McGrath, Judith Johnson, and Tim Costello, just to name a few, have robbed the future of the children of Mount Vernon. Children who drop out of school join gangs, become involved with drugs, become teenage parents, and end up in jail. Most of the children who happen to graduate are unprepared for college. Due to rampant corruption a generation of children have been lost in the City of Mount Vernon.
Mt Vernon has been devastated by the actions of a few selfish, and greedy individuals. They have destroyed this once great city and should be held accountable. When you walk around Mount Vernon, and you see a troubled teenager, or an abandoned home, you now know what caused this plight. Mount Vernon taxpayers and residents cannot continue to sit back and allow this foolishness to continue. It is up to all hold school officials accountable for their actions. Taxpayers must demand that the Board of Trustees call in the authorities to investigate the district finances. After all, they just voted to do so. Mount Vernon Exposed will keep you posted about the action taken by school board trustees. To be continued…
Secretary of State John Kerry has declared that a nearly
200-year-old policy which had governed Washington's relations with Latin
America was finally dead.
Known as the Monroe Doctrine after it was adopted in 1823 by former
President James Monroe, the policy had stated that any efforts by
European countries to colonize land in North or South America would be
viewed as aggressive acts and could require U.S. intervention.
"The doctrine that bears [Monroe's] name asserted our authority to
step in and oppose the influence of European powers in Latin America,"
Kerry told an audience at the Organization of American States. "And
throughout our nation's history, successive presidents have reinforced
that doctrine and made a similar choice." Urgent: Do You Approve Or Disapprove of President Obama's Job Performance? Vote Now in Urgent Poll
"Today, however, we have made a different choice. The era of the Monroe Doctrine is over," he insisted to applause.
"The relationship that we seek and that we have worked hard to foster
is not about a United States declaration about how and when it will
intervene in the affairs of other American states." Kerry said. "It's
about all of our countries viewing one another as equals, sharing
responsibilities, cooperating on security issues and adhering not to
doctrine but to the decisions that we make as partners to advance the
values and the interests that we share."
Kerry had been roundly criticized earlier this year when he told U.S.
lawmakers that "the western hemisphere is our backyard" in comments
that triggered anger from some Latin American leaders.
Bolivian President Evo Morales expelled the U.S. Agency for
International Development following the speech, and denounced the United
States, which he said "probably thinks that here it can still
manipulate politically and economically. That is a thing of the past."
Kerry seemed to agree Monday, saying: "Many years ago the United
States dictated a policy that defined the hemisphere for many years
after. We've moved past that era, and today we must go even further."
"The question is will we work as equal partners in order to achieve
our goals?" Kerry asked. "It will require courage and a willingness to
change, but above all, it will require a higher and deeper level of
cooperation between us, all of us together as equal partners in this
This has meant not only fiscal reform but more vigorous attempts to rein
in corruption, break up monopolies in energy and communication, and
aggressive public health moves, like the constitutional addendum of 2011
that guarantees all citizens “the right to nutritious, sufficient and
quality food.” In fact the biggest takeaway may be that the government
of the country with the world’s 14th-largest gross domestic product has
placed public health above the profits of an important industry.
Yes, this may have been a politically expedient calculation (and no,
Mexico is hardly Nirvana), but the reality is that the regulation of an
industry that needs regulation is happening. And there could hardly be a
more important and legitimate role for government than attending to the
health and well-being of its populace; we need not reflect too long on
the inability or unwillingness of the government of the country with the
world’s largest economy to recognize this. (Equally embarrassing.)
Although the soda tax got most of the attention, other moves are also
important. The junk food tax, first proposed at 5 percent but boosted to
8 when one senator argued that 5 percent didn’t even cover the public
expenditure on health problems caused by junk food, will use caloric
density to define processed foods that are detrimental to health. The
formula, which will exclude meat, dairy and other “real” foods, would
tax those foods that contain more than 275 calories per 100 grams, or
just over three ounces. (For perspective: 100 grams of Snickers is about
500 calories; 100 grams of apple is approximately 50 calories.)
And although Mexico’s Constitution forbids “earmarks” — tax revenues for
specific purposes — there’s at least preliminary agreement that much of
the money from the new taxes be used for public health, including
giving all schools drinking fountains that dispense purified water.
(When asked if they were in favor of a soda tax, most Mexicans polled
said no. When advocates linked the tax to obesity prevention, including
clean water in schools, 70 percent were in favor. Soda tax campaigners,
please note.) Especially in rural areas, people might end up using
schools to get water for their homes, which would make it more likely
that schools would be used to distribute subsidized fruits and
vegetables, another goal of public health advocates.
Sugar (and by extension sugary beverages) is one of the three luxuries —
along with tobacco and rum— described by Adam Smith as “extremely
proper subjects of taxation”; it has proved to be the toughest to tax of
the three. And although the soda tax is being hailed by supporters on
both sides of the border (the American Heart Association said in a
statement, “Mexico’s effort provides an excellent starting point, but we
need U.S. states and communities to enact the tax as well”), there is
also wariness, because the tax is roughly half what research indicates
to be the super-effectiveness threshold of about 20 percent. The
peso-per-liter level is still meaningful, however; in fact, Femsa,
Mexico’s Coke bottler, has said it would pass on the tax by raising
prices between 12 and 15 percent.
Still, it’s difficult to be confident, especially since these taxes seem
small against the overall challenge: significantly reducing consumption
of sugar and controlling the marketing of junk food to kids.
Furthermore, public health education is needed to turn around the
culture of sugar, in which people may buy and drink sweet beverages
despite higher costs and the presence of alternatives. When I visited
Mexico City recently, tax advocates told me that the new moves made it
clear that the previous administrations did nothing to prevent the
obesity crisis (indeed, the next-to-last president was a former
president of Coca-Cola Mexico). The new government has raised the stakes
in defining a quality diet, recognizing that cheap calories are not
sufficient and that real food is preferable to processed products.
Unlike the meaningless chant of “U.S.A.! U.S.A.!” (or the ridiculously
chauvinistic “We’re No.1!”), ¡Viva México! actually means something:
“Let Mexico Live!” (Or, more popularly, Long Live Mexico!)
But thanks largely to proximity (and Nafta) Mexico has suffered more
from adapting the standard American diet than any other country.
Everyone, it seems, is surprised that these taxes are going forward. It
would be fitting if they paved the way toward a saner diet, just as it
would be both paradoxical and wonderful if the United States could
follow its lead.
CORRUPT ARMANI CHARTER SCHOOL DIRECTOR DEBRA STERN
CORRUPT EX-SCHOOL BOARD PRESIDENT CHARLES STERN
CORRUPT SCHOOL CFO TIMOTHY COSTELLO
CORRUPT SCHOOL BOARD TRUSTEE ELIAS GOOTZEIT
It has been 3 weeks since Mount Vernon School Board Trustee’s voted unanimously to have Federal investigators take a look at the books and allegations of fraud, waste, and abuse within the City of Mount Vernon School district. School Board Trustee Elias Gootzeit authored the resolution. On Monday, November 19, 2013, Gootzeit held a forum at Mandela High School, “What to do when stopped by the police”. Many parents informed Mount Vernon Exposed that they were outraged and troubled that a school board trustee would hold a seminar about being stopped by the cops instead of having a seminar of importance such as, preparing for college, or preparing for life after high school.
The resolution unanimously approved by school board trustees calls for School Board President Gerald Whiteside and the school attorney to forward all allegations of corruption found on this website. As of today, school board President Gerald Whiteside nor the school board attorney have turned over any documentation to Federal authorities. Mount Vernon Exposed recently revealed that the current board President, Gerald Whiteside although a good board member, has been a less than mediocre Board President. Whiteside has seldom sat with Mount Vernon Superintendent Judith Johnson when preparing the tabs (resolutions) for upcoming board meeting. This inaction on Whiteside’s behalf has led to School Board President Len Sarver sitting with Johnson in Whiteside’s place. Sarver and Johnson have gone wild with taxpayers’ funds and have awarded lucrative contracts to cronies of Sarver and Johnson.
Last month, Mount Vernon Exposed revealed that Amani Charter School went on a spending spree in excess of $200K of taxpayer funds. Amani Charter School has been a hot button topic in the City of Mount Vernon for the past several years. Debra Stern, wife of former school board President Charles Stern, started the Amani Charter School. Parents and taxpayers have long questioned the motives and the reasoning behind the creation of the Amani Charter School.
Debra Stern and Charles Stern had two young children attending the Lincoln Elementary School. As the children were nearing graduation, the Sterns did not want their children attending the Mount Vernon public middle schools. So the Sterns craftily drafted a plan that would personally enrich them while solving the problem of the young children attending the Mount Vernon Public Middle Schools.
While serving as Board President, Charles Stern, studied night and day to find out where the money was in the school budget for his Charter School. Stern had the hand of Assistant Superintendent of Business Timothy Costello to assist in his quest to loot already cash strapped taxpayers. Stern, Costello and School Board Vice President Sarver are parishioners at the Sinai Free Synagogue in Mount Vernon.
Costello publicly on several occasions spoke out against the creation of the Amani Charter School. Costello told the public that the Amani Charter School would bankrupt the school district.
It turns out that Costello was talking out of both sides of his mouth when it came to the Amani Charter School. Costello’s behavior and ethics also comes into when it comes to the Amani Charter School.
On October 28, 2013, Mount Vernon Exposed revealed to the public that the Amani Charter School went on a wild spending spree spending in excess of $200K on a brand new file server, custom purple molding, laptops, and electrical service upgrades. Upon information and belief, the electrician that did the electrical work for Armani Charter School is connected to and is a close friend of School Board Vice President Len Sarver.
When news broke that Mount Vernon Exposed was hot on the trail of corruption at the Amani Charter School, Timothy Costello on orders from School Superintendent Judith Johnson began to take steps to cover up their criminal acts including backdating memorandums and correspondence to make it appear that Costello’s office and the Mount Vernon City School district found the fraud instead of Mount Vernon Exposed’s investigative team.
On September 25, 2013, Costello sent a letter to the attention of Debra Stern at the Amani Charter School. The letter stated that 17 students were discharged from the Amani Charter School and that Amani Charter School officials were indeed billing taxpayers erroneously. The letter also stated that an investigation by City of Mount Vernon School district attendance officers determined based on conversations with parents that 12 students also being billed to Mount Vernon taxpayers were no longer attending the Amani Charter School. The Mount Vernon City School district said in the letter that it intended to recoup the fraudulent charges by deducting $89,635.99 from the next bi-weekly payment to the Armani Charter School.
On October 31, 2013, the Amani Charter responded to Costello’s letter dated September 25, 2013 by stating they will be refunding the money over billed to Mount Vernon taxpayers.
One must wonder how long has this billing discrepancy been going on and should taxpayers be concerned about Armani’s accounting practices from previous years? How did Costello detect the Armani overbilling? What other accounts and vendors have been overbilling the Mount Vernon School district?
The documents presented to Mount Vernon Exposed are questionable. Under normal circumstances, documents are time stamped by a mechanical clock so there is a record of when the said document was received. The documents from Amani Charter School reviewed by Mount Vernon Exposed were not time stamped by the clock instead they were stamped with a ink pad that can be easily obtained at Target or Staples.
School Board members must remain focused and not get distracted from doing their jobs. They do not work at the pleasure of the school board attorney and the Superintendent of Schools. School Board President Gerald Whiteside must do as he was directed, and serve the taxpayer by turning over all allegations of corruption to Federal authorities. Mr. Whiteside must step up or step down. We are watching you Mr. Whiteside and everything that you do! Remember you were elected to serve the taxpayers in good faith, let your conscience be your guide!!!
By AMY CHOZICK, NATHANIEL POPPER, EDWARD WONG and DAVID CARR
Bloomberg faces newsroom layoffs, a shift in emphasis back to financial
news and skepticism from the business side that investigative journalism
might not be worth the potential problems it could create for terminal
Development’s Owners Failed To Provide Titles And Residences To Dozens Of Customers Who Paid For Properties In Pueblo Bavaro
Several Consumers Found Squatters Occupying Their Residences; Others Complained Of Stolen Furniture And Appliances
YORK - Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced a lawsuit
against the Dominican business Consorcio Empresarial Emproy-Divisa;
Danilo Diaz, the company’s president; Julio Balbuena, the company’s
sales manager; Rivas Travel and Multiservice, Inc., a New York
corporation; and David Rivas, the owner of Rivas Travel. The lawsuit,
filed in Manhattan Supreme Court, alleges that the respondents incurred
in a deceptive practice and false advertising in violation of several
New York State laws. From
at least 2005 through 2008, Diaz and Balbuena promoted “Pueblo Bavaro,” a
residential development in the Dominican Republic, through the
dissemination of literature, pamphlets, and DVDs at several promotional
events in Washington Heights community of New York City. Respondents
operated from Rivas Travel, located at 4321 Broadway, New York, New
York, and from a “Pueblo Bavaro Promotion Office” located at 220
Wadsworth Avenue, New York, New York from at least 2006 to 2011. Diaz,
Balbuena, and Rivas prominently appeared in a television commercial
aired on Telemundo that promoted Pueblo Bavaro. Respondents marketed
Pueblo Bavaro as a beautiful Caribbean destination and a sound
investment opportunity. It has been, in fact, the opposite. “As a
result of intentional and blatant deceptive practices, dozens of New
York families have lost thousands of dollars and their hopes of
acquiring a safe and secure residence in the Dominican Republic. My
office will pursue anyone, whether based here or abroad, who unlawfully
conducts business in our state and scams New Yorkers,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “This lawsuit starts the process of helping these families obtain the restitution they deserve.” The
lawsuit alleges that customers who visited Rivas Travel entered into
purchase agreements. Payments were accepted at Rivas Travel, the Pueblo
Bavaro Promotion Office and at Emproy-Divisa’s offices in the Dominican
Republic. The residential units typically ranged in price from $40,000
US to $90,000 US. However, purchasers got either a residence without
title, or no residence or title. Promised security services were not
provided. Some customers found squatters occupying their residence,
while others complained that furniture and appliances had been stolen.
Customers’ repeated attempts to secure title or a refund from
Emproy-Divisa were ignored. The
Attorney General’s lawsuit alleges deceptive conduct and false
advertising in violation of General Business Law §§349 and 350
respectively, and that Emproy-Divisa, Danilo Diaz, and Julio Balbuena
unlawfully operated as a foreign corporation without the requisite
filing with the New York Department of State of an application for
authority in violation of Business Corporations Law §§ 1301 and 1305.
More than 40 customers have filed complaints with the Attorney General’s
office alleging they never received title to their purchased property,
despite paying for their property in full or securing a mortgage through
Banco de Reservas, the Dominican National bank, as they were instructed
to do at the time of purchase. The lawsuit seeks restitution for
injured consumers, injunctive relief, and fines and penalties. The
case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Roberto Lebron,
under the supervision of Assistant Attorney General in Charge of the
Harlem Regional Office Guy Mitchell, Consumer Fraud and Protection
Bureau Chief Jane Azia, and Executive Deputy Attorney General for
Regional Offices Martin Mack.