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cover 1999-2002 - SCI

cover 1999-2002 - SCI

Our investigation also

Our investigation also revealed that the officials at OPM ignored the problems with Miller’s bidding process, never questioned the amount of public dollars paid to her hand-picked computer contractor, and did not scrutinize the quality of the work. Shortly after installation of the equipment, it became clear that the end product was substandard. Recommendations In our report, we recommended that Celestine Miller, who at the time of the report’s release had already been removed as Superintendent as a result of another SCI investigation, be barred from future employment for any position with the BOE. In addition, we recommended that the individuals involved in the scheme be barred from future employment or participating in any business with the BOE. Results At the conclusion of our investigation, Celestine Miller, William Harris, Thomas Kontogiannis, Ray Shain and Kinson Tso were arrested. They were subsequently indicted by a Grand Jury and prosecuted by the Queens District Attorney’s Office: Harris, for Criminal Facilitation in the Fourth Degree; Miller and the others for Grand Larceny in the First Degree. In October 2002, the conspirators pleaded guilty to felony and misdemeanor charges. As a result, Kontogiannis and the others was ordered to pay the Board of Education $5.2 million dollars in restitution. Both Miller and Harris, her husband and a former BOE principal, were placed on the BOE’s ineligible list in March 2001. 4

Home Instruction: Teachers Cheat Children Out of an Education and the BOE Out of Money Frank Accardi Home Instruction Teacher Frank Accardi, assigned to District 31 on Staten Island, repeatedly defrauded the BOE and cheated the homebound children he was assigned to help by claiming to teach home sessions that never took place. The investigation began after a Home Instruction assistant principal conducted a random telephone check at the home of a student when Accardi was supposed to be there teaching. Further scrutiny by the assistant principal revealed that another student whom Accardi claimed to be teaching had returned to his regular school. As a result, this office was contacted. Surveillance of Accardi conducted by investigators from this office uncovered his scheme to defraud the BOE, proving that the teacher often spent large portions of his “workday” at home or behind the counter of his bagel shop in Staten Island. Furthermore, he stole what was essentially overtime pay by falsely claiming that he was teaching children in per session classes beyond his assigned work hours. To further his scheme, Accardi falsified numerous documents and even attempted to coerce a parent to lie for him by threatening that the parent would not be able to get another instructor for his child. The evidence gathered suggests that Accardi stole much of his $55,023 salary and per session earnings. Recommendations and Results Teacher Frank Accardi spent large portions of his “workday” at home or behind the counter of his bagel shop in Staten Island, even while he was claiming to be teaching homebound students. In our report we recommended that Accardi’s employment be terminated and that this matter be considered should he seek any type of position with the BOE in the future. On January 14, 2002, Accardi was arrested by investigators from this office and prosecuted by the Richmond County District Attorney’s Office on charges of Grand 5

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