by Ted Carroll, Guest Columnist
It’s now been three years and elected officials still don’t know how the largest fraud in city history came about.
Three years have passed since Rye Golf Club members initiated a citizen led investigation into unusual managerial practices at the club. Rye City management and the majority of its elected officials initially repeatedly denied any impropriety and then stonewalled citizen document requests from City Hall for months and months - only to cave in and comply when key club invoices were obtained outside of the official process resulting in explosive disclosures that triggered public outcry.
The most recent upshot of this citizen-forced investigative process was that earlier this month, after being found guilty of grand larceny, former Rye Golf Club manager Scott Yandrasevich told a local judge he was unable to make even a single penny of restitution to the taxpayers of Rye and so was immediately taken into custody to begin serving a 1 – 3 year jail sentence.
Last month, at a city council meeting on the evening of July 8th, our new city independent auditor, Mr. Brendan Kennedy, publically confirmed what many (including former Rye City Manager-Emeritus Frank Culross) have already said repeatedly. Which is, said Mr. Kennedy, that the largest financial fraud in city history has its roots “clearly” in “a circumvention of internal control or, who knows, if (it) happened to be collusion...”
(See video here starting with Mayor Sack’s question to Mr. Kennedy at time code 14.30)
Circumventions and/or collusions are not solo criminal acts. These illegal maneuvers require multiple insider participants (see link to primer below). Rye officials however remain steadfast in not wanting to say more about how the crime originated, or who else was involved. Regrettably, this was exactly what I predicted on these same pages back in April of 2013 -
To date, millions of city taxpayer dollars remain unrecovered, and many more possibly millions of dollars may be required to be further paid out under a lawsuit by ex-golf club workers claiming they were cheated out of their tips and overtime by former senior Rye City employee Yandrasevich. Yet those we elected to get to the bottom of this matter cannot or will not identify, pursue, or hold accountable those others who participated.
Some bad actors sure got it good.
(For those interested in learning more about how internal financial controls protect local governments from fraud and theft I recommend this handy non-technical primer. )
Ted Carroll is a lifelong Rye resident, a Certified Public Accountant, and a partner at Noson Lawen Partners, a media industry private equity firm. This column was written to honor the memory of Ellen “Sis” D’Angelo, Feb 11, 1929 – August 3, 2015, an extraordinary citizen and tireless protector of the town she loved.