PHILIP J. PORTELLI, and PAUL M. AZZOPARDI, were indicted for conspiracy and other crimes related to their theft of more than $105,000 from the New York City Department of Education in a “no-show job” scheme

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced two indictments of public employees — a Department of Education school custodian and a Department of Finance clerk — who are charged with abusing their positions to defraud the City and enrich themselves. A third man has also been charged in the scheme to defraud the Department of Education.

“Public employees must be held to the highest standards of honesty and integrity,” said District Attorney Vance. “These defendants brazenly defrauded the City, taking desperately needed public funds. It is a top priority of the Office to investigate and prosecute those who violate the public’s trust. We will continue to work closely with the Department of Investigation and other agencies to root out corruption and theft in government.”

In the first case, PHILIP J. PORTELLI, 33, and PAUL M. AZZOPARDI, 28, were indicted for conspiracy and other crimes related to their theft of more than $105,000 from the New York City Department of Education in a “no-show job” scheme [1].

PORTELLI was employed as the Custodian Engineer at the Edward A. Reynolds West Side High School on 102nd Street in Manhattan, according to information contained in court documents. He and AZZOPARDI, who have been friends for many years, hatched a scheme in late 2006, to add AZZOPARDI to PORTELLI’S custodial payroll, even though AZZOPARDI did not actually work at the school. For the next two years, PORTELLI fabricated time cards, submitted false documents to the Department of Education and fraudulently issued paychecks to AZZOPARDI. Both AZZOPARDI and PORTELLI cashed or deposited the paychecks that PORTELLI issued in AZZOPARDI’S name and split the proceeds. PORTELLI tried to enlist at least one other employee in the scheme by issuing the employee a paycheck for time the employee did not work and instructing him to lie to investigators and state that AZZOPARDI worked at the school. In all, their larcenous scheme cost the Department of Education more than $105,000.

In the second case, KAREN FRAZIER, 42, was employed as a data entry clerk by the Department of Finance (“DOF”), Commercial Adjudications Unit in Manhattan. Parking summonses issued to commercial vehicles are adjudicated in the unit. FRAZIER was indicted for scheme to defraud, bribe receiving, tampering with records, and other related charges for a ticket-fixing scheme that scammed DOF. According to court documents, in October 2008, FRAZIER began taking half the value of a summons in cash from motorists in exchange for her promise to “take care of” the tickets.

FRAZIER took many of the tickets to her workplace, filled out settlement sheets for multiple summonses, and presented them to settlement clerks to have the fines owed on the tickets reduced. Settlement sheets are ordinarily prepared by DOF settlement clerks who offer the motorist a reduced fine if they opt to forgo a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”). On the settlement sheets, FRAZIER put the names and addresses of the motorists and falsely represented that she was the motorist and was the owner or operator of the vehicles. FRAZIER then signed the motorists’ signatures on the settlement sheets, as if they were present at DOF and agreeing to the reduced fine, and submitted the forms to the settlement clerks for their signatures. FRAZIER pocketed the cash bribes she received and then paid DOF for the summonses with checks from her personal Municipal Credit Union account. As there was often not any money in FRAZIER’S bank account at all and never enough to cover these checks, they consistently bounced. FRAZIER frequently sent multiple checks to pay for a single summons, bouncing each check and incurring further penalties on the summonses. From October 2008 through August 2009, FRAZIER wrote more than 100 worthless checks to DOF to pay approximately 20 different motorists’ summonses, totaling approximately $24,000.

In May and July 2009, FRAZIER entered DOF’s database to falsely input that hearings were conducted and the motorists were found not guilty. These six summonses were dismissed outright as a result of FRAZIER’S misuse of the computer codes for Administrative Law Judges and her tampering with the computer records.

District Attorney Vance thanked New York City Department of Investigation Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn for her department’s work on both these investigations. District Attorney Vance also thanked the Special Commissioner of Investigation for the New York City School District Richard J. Condon, Deputy Commissioner Gerald P. Conroy, and Senior Investigator Robert A. Caiati for their work on the PORTELLI and AZZOPARDI investigation. District Attorney Vance also thanked Inspector General for the Department of Finance Faisal Khan and Special Investigator Kristin Walunas for their work on the FRAZIER investigation.

Assistant District Attorney Peirce R. Moser presented the PORTELLI / AZZOPARDI case to the grand jury, and Assistant District Attorney Amy Justiniano presented the FRAZIER case, both under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Thomas Wornom, chief of the Special Prosecutions Bureau, and deputy chief Judy Salwen. Assistant District Attorney Lauren Littman participated in the investigation of the PORTELLI / AZZOPARDI case.

Defendant Information:

PHILIP J. PORTELLI, 10/18/1976
355 East 88th Street, New York, NY

Charges:

* Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, 1 count, class C felony, punishable by a sentence of up to 5 to 15 years in prison.
* Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree to commit Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, 1 count, class E felony, punishable by a sentence of up to 1 1/3 to 4 years in prison.
* Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree, 24 counts, class E felony, punishable by a sentence of up to 1 1/3 to 4 years in prison.



PAUL M. AZZOPARDI, 8/14/1981
443 East 88th Street, New York, NY

Charges:

* Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, 1 count, class C felony, punishable by a sentence of up to 5 to 15 years in prison.
* Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree to commit Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, 1 count, class E felony, punishable by a sentence of up to 1 1/3 to 4 years in prison.



KAREN FRAZIER, 5/22/67
1588 Sterling Place
Brooklyn, NY

Charges:

* Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, 1 count, Class E Felony punishable by a sentence of up to 1 1/3 to 4 years in prison.
* Bribe Receiving in the Third Degree, 2 counts, Class D Felony punishable by a sentence of up to 2 1/3 to 7 years in prison.
* Receiving Reward for Official Misconduct in the Second Degree, 2 counts, Class E Felony punishable by a sentence of up to 1 1/3 to 4 years in prison.
* Tampering with Public Records in the First Degree, 6 counts, Class D Felony punishable by a sentence of up to 2 1/3 to 7 years in prison.
* Forgery in the Second Degree, 11 counts, Class D Felony punishable by a sentence of up to 2 1/3 to 7 years in prison.
* Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree, 5 counts, Class D Felony punishable by a sentence of up to 2 1/3 to 7 years in prison.
* Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree, 5 counts, Class E Felony punishable by a sentence of up to 1 1/3 to 4 years in prison.
* Issuing a Bad Check, 7 counts, Class B Misdemeanor punishable by a sentence of up to 90 days in jail.

[1] The charges contained in the indictments are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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