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City schools official arrested for not paying taxes

A city schools employee who worked in human resources was arrested today for failing to pay his state income taxes, according to the city’s Department of Investigation.

Richard Brescia, 54, the Department of Education’s Director of Performance Management and Talent Development, has been suspended without pay pending the investigation’s outcome, said DOE spokesman David Cantor.

“Stunningly, this schools official ignored his basic civic duty to file tax returns and compounded that crime by concealing it in City disclosure filings, according to the charges,” said DOI Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn in a statement.

“If true, the allegations constitute a breach of public trust that would be especially troubling given the Department of Education’s commitment to children,” Cantor said.

DOI STATEMENT ON ARREST OF DOE OFFICIAL ON TAX FRAUD AND FALSE FILING CHARGES

ROSE GILL HEARN, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Investigation (“DOI”), issued the following statement regarding the arrest today of the Director of Performance Management & Talent Development of the City Department of Education (“DOE”) on charges of falsely reporting on City financial disclosure forms that he filed State income tax returns and of failing to file State income tax returns. DOI assisted the office of New York County District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., and the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, Office of Tax Enforcement in this investigation. Today’s arrest is the result of these agencies’ examining City employees’ compliance with State law mandating the annual filing of State tax returns.

The New York County District Attorney’s Office arrested RICHARD L. BRESCIA, 54, of Manhattan, this morning, and is prosecuting the case.

DOI Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn said, “Stunningly, this schools official ignored his basic civic duty to file tax returns and compounded that crime by concealing it in City disclosure filings, according to the charges. Honesty and integrity are expected of every City employee, especially a key administrator entrusted with a management role in the City schools. City employees, like all New York State residents, must file their tax returns or face the potential consequences of arrest and prosecution. DOI will continue to work with the New York County District Attorney’s Office and the State Department of Taxation and Finance to expose and stop those City employees who flout the tax law.”

BRESCIA has been employed by DOE since September 2007, was assigned to DOE’s offices in Brooklyn, and receives an annual salary of approximately $113,483. He will be suspended.

DOI Commissioner Gill Hearn thanked New York County District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. and Jamie Woodward, Acting Commissioner of the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, and their staffs, for their joint work on this investigation.

Assistant District Attorney Gilda I. Mariani, Chief of the Money Laundering and Tax Crimes Unit at the New York County District Attorney’s Office, has been assigned to the prosecution of the case.

DOI’s Office of Inspector General for the City Department of Finance assisted in the investigation.

A criminal complaint is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Mixed messages

Strange graffiti scrawled on New York City education department headquarters, police say

Strange graffiti was scrawled on the education department headquarters.

Before 7 a.m. on Tuesday, cryptic messages were scrawled on the Corinthian columns of Tweed Courthouse, the historic education department headquarters in lower Manhattan.

The message meant to be conveyed by the graffiti, written in royal blue spray paint, was unclear. It was largely a rambling series of words related to social justice such as “unconstitutional murder lower economic education feudal class” and “superior erudite tyrants,” according to the New York City Police Department.

An investigation has been launched, but police said no description is available of who might have left the graffiti or why.

The education department’s maintenance team quickly began cleaning up the mess with a large pressure cleaner.

Tweed Courthouse is a New York City landmark and we’re disappointed that someone would vandalize the building,” spokeswoman Toya Holness wrote in an email.

The courthouse was designated as a landmark in 1984, and became the education department headquarters in the early 2000s after extensive renovations.

It took two decades to build and was completed in 1881, according to city records. Construction was interrupted by the trial of the legendary Tammany Hall boss William M. Tweed, who embezzled money through the project. He eventually was tried in an unfinished courtroom there and sentenced to 12 years in prison.

Police didn’t say what types of charges or fines the tagger might face.

Superintendent search

Newark’s school board may pick a new superintendent today. Here’s what you need to know

PHOTO: Patrick Wall

The Newark school board is expected to choose a new superintendent at its meeting Tuesday evening — the first time it has done so in more than two decades.

In February, the state returned control of the 35,000-student school system to the school board, restoring its authority to pick a schools chief. Now, the board is set to choose from four superintendent finalists at its meeting at 6 tonight at Speedway Academies.

Before the big decision, here’s a quick rundown of what’s happened so far.

  • The four finalists are:
  • You can find their official bios here.
  • They each gave 30-minute presentations about themselves at a public forum on Friday, where the audience was not allowed to ask questions. The board interviewed the candidates in private on Saturday.
  • The finalists were selected according to a state plan that the district must follow to fully return to local control.
  • The plan says that the search must be led by a seven-person committee that includes three school board members, a state representative appointed by the state education commissioner, and three people with a “longstanding connection to Newark” jointly chosen by Mayor Ras Baraka and the commissioner.
  • The board hired the firm Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates to conduct a national search (as required by the plan), and presented candidates to the search committee.
  • The plan called for the committee to select three finalists for the full board to vote on. However, board chair Josephine Garcia requested four choices instead of three. The state education commissioner agreed, and four finalists were presented.
  • The plan sets a deadline of May 31 for the board to choose a superintendent and that person to accept the offer.