Friday, November 13, 2009

Judas - Milt Aron

This story is not complete. I am sure there are a lot of pieces to this puzzle that I have not been able to find. I do know that you are reading only part of a web of corruption that is much deeper than what is written here. Updated 10/30/2013.

2001

On December 3, 2001, I promoted Milt Aron to the position of deputy executive director at NYCERS.

Subsequently, Aron became very friendly with Niki Browne. Ms. Browne was the assistant to Ms. Chiariello, the deputy director of Membership Division. In response to requests from Aron, Browne began to help Aron whenever he needed to write anything. She even wrote personnel evaluations for him of senior managers who reported to him. This included Chiariello who Browne reported to. Browne helped Aron with other special projects, in particular, the conversion of NYCERS’s massive paper file system to electronic images. (This project faltered after Aron demoted Browne in 2005.) In addition, Aron felt comfortable complaining to Browne about me. I discovered this after Aron demoted Browne in June, 2005.

In January, 2011 Ms. Browne and I were married.

2003

The following is based on sworn testimony to DOI giving by both Aron and Vibha Harish, Aron’s secretary in July, 2004 and a second sworn testimony given by Aron to DOI in October, 2004.

In or around June, 2003, Ms Harish spoke to Aron about comments that Natalia Rivera, my secretary, had made to her. Rivera had just told Ms. Harish that Ms. Browne and I were having an affair. Aron initially (July, 2004) claimed that he then spoke to Browne about the allegation and that Browne denied it.

Then in a second sworn testimony in October, 2004 Aron changed his story and claimed that the conversation with Browne occurred sometime between December, 2001 and November, 2003 when Browne had approached him to deny the relationship. The Harish conversation, however, occurred in or around June, 2003 according to both parties.

DOI never made any mention of the discrepancy in Aron’s testimony

Aron never told me about the Harish conversation. He did, however, speak to the deputy director of the Communications Division, Valarie Humphries, about possibly transferring Rivera into that unit. Aron told Humphries that Rivera was uncomfortable with a personal relationship that I was involved with.

As a follow up, Humphries was forced out of NYCERS in 2006. In a unique action, D’Alessandro, the current executive director, authorized the payment to Humphries of an undisclosed amount upon her separation. In return, Humphries signed an agreement not to make any negative comments about NYCERS. This is an illegal use of NYCERS assets.

I learned about this conversation along with other details from Humphries in 2008. I had moved to Queens in late 2007 and I meet her as she was catching a bus to work. We subsequently meet for coffee and she willing told me what she knew.

From June, 2003 on, it is clear from Aron’s comment to Humphries that Aron knew about the relationship between Browne and me. Aron never told DOI about his conversation with Humphries for obvious reasons. It is also reasonable to suspect that as of 2006, D’Alessandro knew that there were questions surrounding Aron’s decision to promote Browne in 2003.

In the summer of 2003, Aron did propose to me that we should transfer Rivera to the Communications Division to work as a technical writer but for another reason. We were both aware of Rivera’s unhappiness with her secretary’s pay and he said this would solve this problem. I offered Rivera the position in Communications and she accepted it. She, however, left NYCERS at the end of 2003.

In September, 2003, when the deputy director of administration announced that she would be retiring at the end of the year, Aron told me that he wanted to promote Ms. Browne to that position. He posted the opening internally and interviewed several NYCERS employees including Browne. He then chose Ms. Browne for the position and offered her the same salary as the incumbent. Ms. Browne’s appointment was effective January 3, 2004.

2004

In January, 2004 Martha Stark appointed Dara Ottley-Brown as assistant commissioner, real property, a high profile position at the Department of Finance. Stark was personally involved with Ottley-Brown at the time.

In June, 2004, in response to an anonymous letter to the NYCERS trustees I told the trustees that I was involved with Ms. Browne but that I had never given her any promotions or pay raises. The trustees then asked DOI to investigate the matter.

DOI then proceeded to produce one of their half assed investigations using a novice investigator, Carol DeFreitas, who actually was one of Stark’s employees.

2005

In a March 1, 2005 DOI letter to Stark, Vincent Green falsely claimed that I had promoted Ms. Browne. He then forwarded the matter (Murphy, Browne, Baksh, and Mazza) to COIB for action.

On March 10, 2005, Stark and the other NYCERS trustees took a secret vote to appoint Aron as acting executive director of NYCERS. This vote terminated my 30 year career with NYCERS. Diane Bratcher, Stark's assistant, confirmed this in her March 11, 2005 email to the Bronx Borough President’s representative. Bratcher was later caught lying about this during a 2006 deposition.

Stark was still involved with Ottley-Brown at the Department of Finance at this time. I wonder when the trustees found out about this relationship. I found out about it in August, five months later, from a Finance employee. We subsequently found out from a 2011 DOI investigation that Stark was intimately involved with other women at Finance while she was the Finance Commissioner.

On March 14, 2005, Aron becomes acting executive director of NYCERS. He meets with Stark on that day and spoke “about other staff” according to a Stark email.

Within a week, Aron fires the NYCERS security director to keep DOI happy 1. He immediately assigns the security operations to Browne while a new director is hired.

April 5, 2005

On April 5, 2005, Green at DOI sends Aron a letter recommending disciplinary action against Browne and me because of the relationship, the promotion, and for discrediting NYCERS. Green is not content with COIB action. He wants the agency to bring charges against us. Green asked Aron to look for other violations. No mention was made of the serious issues involving Mazza and Baksh.

Aron is now in a precarious spot as is a whole cast of characters. Who knows what about who and when with regards to each of the clowns in this circus. You have Baksh, Mazza, DeFreitas, Mak, Stark, Aron, Green, Bratcher, Ottley-Brown, the trustees, the Law Department, and City Hall. As time goes on the list gets longer. You can just imagine the twists and turns that they all went through. For instances, Mak has a stack of incriminating emails at his home in Pennsylvania which protects him from other parties in crime.

On the same day in response to the DOI letter, Aron calls Green. Aron tells Green that he has determined that Browne has also violated Section D, #8 of the NYCERS handbook.

”Employees shall not give false statements in connection with any NYCERS operation, activity (a timesheet) or investigation”

Aron tells Green that Browne had lied when she denied her relationship with me. Aron had never made this charge before. He has turned on Browne to protect himself.

Aron tells Green that he would wait for the COIB determination before he proceeded with charges against Browne.

Aron tells Green that he did not think he could bring charges against me because of the agreement made between the trustees and me. There was no such agreement.

When Green pressed Aron to bring charges against me because I was still on payroll, Aron said he would speak to the NYCERS Board.

Of course, charges against me were meaningless, since the trustees had already fired me but I suspect Green wanted to kill my pension. Some of my enemies thought that the trustees let me have my pension but the trustees had no say in the matter. My pension was protected by statute since I was an honorable discharged war veteran. More than you can say for most of the characters in this disaster.

From this point on, Aron had to find someone else to do his writing. Enter Karen Mazza, the woman who regularly falsifies her timesheets. That is when she has time to get of the telephone. For Aron, this was not a problem. In fact, it was an advantage in that he could take action against Mazza on a moment’s notice. Aron was well aware of Mazza's timesheet problems.

It is not clear whether, at this time, Aron knew that Felita Baksh had lied under oath to DOI, and that Mazza, Carol DeFreitas (DOI) and Kin Mak (NYCERS) had conspired to suppress incriminating evidence against Mazza and Baksh. But Aron does know there is evidence that he promoted Browne knowing that she was involved with me. He knows he could be fired for the promotion and actually lose his pension. Aron is not a veteran.

April 15, 2005

On April 15, 2005, Aron, aka Mazza, sends Green a 2 & ½ page letter in response to the DOI April 5, 2005 letter. Aron could no more write a 2 & ½ page letter than fly to the moon.

In the letter, Aron states that he agrees with the charges Green made against Browne and me. 2

Aron quotes Section II, subsection D (8) of the NYCERS handbook. He then states that Browne had at least once denied her relationship with me to him. He states that if he had known he might not have promoted her.

In fact, Aron did know about the relationship and promoted her anyway. This shines a clear light on Aron’s actions against Browne. He was protecting his own skin. Aron was aware of the relationship as of the summer of 2003. He is totally compromised. He was now willing to stab Browne in the back to save himself.

He very carefully doesn’t say when Browne denied the relationship. He knows he is on record with two different denial stories to DOI and that there is the June, 2003 conversation with Ms. Harish. Without giving a date for the denial, it is impossible to know if the denial is a false statement. Of course, there was also no mention of what the associated NYCERS operation was, which the NYCERS handbook refers to.

At this point in the letter, Aron states that he will defer disciplinary action against Browne until COIB renders its decision. As far as any action against me, Aron had no stomach for that. He again claims that the trustees and I made a deal. There was no deal. The trustees fired me.

In the final part of his letter Aron again states that he agrees with Green’s charges against Browne and me, but in an attempt to protect himself he makes some comments about the accuracy of Green’s report.3

Demotion – June 1, 2005

On May 31, 2005, COIB determines that no actions are warranted on the matters that Green had forwarded to them. (COIB# 2005-128, DOI#0406892)

On the morning of June 1, 2005, Green emails Stark about the COIB decision. There were numerous phone conversations that morning between Aron and Stark’s offices. Before lunch, Aron tells Browne that COIB has decided that no action should be taken against her. That afternoon, Aron demotes Ms. Browne to her permanent civil service position, and cuts her salary by $14,000. He also publically accuses her of lying to him before 37 NYCERS employees that day and the next.

Subsequently Browne requests a performance evaluation for the period from January 3, 2004 to June 1, 2005. Aron, true to form, has never done her performance evaluation. In a June 6, 2005 meeting Aron, with Mazza present, attempts to intimidate Browne with a libelous performance evaluation. He states that if she insists on receiving an evaluation, he will put this unsupportable attack in her file. Interestingly, in light of future claims, there was no mention in the evaluation of a future claim by Aron and Mazza that during a May 31, 2005 meeting Browne admitted to Aron and Mazza that she had lied to Aron. This "alleged" meeting occurred six days before the June 6 meeting.

D’Alessandro – October, 2005

Aron never formally applied for the permanent position of executive director. This was strange because there was not one person at NYCERS that did not know how much Aron wanted to be executive director.

In September, 2005 I notified the Law Department of Stark’s involvement with Ottley-Brown among other charges.

On October 25, 2005, the NYCERS trustees appointed Diane D’Alesandro as the new executive director effective November 7, 2005.

At the time, D’Alessandro was on the staff of Sheldon Silver. She was previously an in-house lobbyist for DC-37. She is also an openly gay woman, as is Stark. When Aron found out about the decision, he complained bitterly that D’Alessandro did not have even the minimum qualifications for the non-competitive position. It was clear to everyone that this was raw political appointment with no regard for the civil service requirements or competence.

On November 7, 2005, Aron returned to being deputy executive director.

In a November 22, 2005 affidavit, Aron claimed for the first time that in a May 31, 2005 meeting with Browne and Mazza, Browne stated she regretted that she had lied to Aron about the relationship with me.

This statement is unbelievable, especially, in relation to the date. Aron and Mazza, however, insisted under oath in 2008 that this admission occurred the day before they learned of the COIB decision or maybe May 30 or the day before that. Aron wasn’t to clear on the date but Mazza wrote it down in her date book right away. Why wasn’t this crucial information put in the notorious June 6, 2005 performance evaluation? Because Aron and Mazza dreamed it up after the fact.

Aron would have you believe that Browne volunteered, out of the blue, an admission of lying to him the exact date before he learns of the COIB decision.

There are points in this story where the audacity of corrupt people is mindboggling.

2006

As of March, 2006 Aron retires. At that time, D’Alessandro offered Aron a consulting contract with NYCERS for some work after retirement.

The trustees, however, refused to apply for a Section 211 waiver for his post-retirement work with NYCERS. Aron was, therefore, limited to making to $30,000/yr in accordance with the standard Section 212 waiver. It is strange that he did not just continue to work at NYCERS until there was no need for his help.

I guess this was his 30 pieces of silver. It’s too bad he didn’t have the decency to hang himself.

2008

In March, 2008, two years later, D’Alessandro terminates Aron’s contract. This was confirmed by internal NYCERS emails.

Aron, however, was going to be required to testify at Browne’s OATH hearing in May, 2008.

In late April, 2008 D’Alessandro reinstated Aron’s contract. As of November 1, 2009, D’Alessandro continues to pay Aron $30,000/yr for services rendered. I can just imagine her joy at continuing to have him around. They deserve each other.

As of the most recent CAFR report NYCERS paid Aron $11,900 in FY-2013. It appears that D'Allessandro finally got rid of Aron.

At the OATH hearing in May, 2008, Aron claimed that he only took time off in March and April. He was not, however, aware that there had been an internal notice at NYCERS of the termination of his contract and a revocation of his security clearance. The OATH judge chose to ignore this lie. I don’t think the judge was stupid.

Notes:

1In November, 2002 NYCERS spotted an increased number of stolen loan checks. I had the security director contact NYPD to have them investigate the problem. When the security director asked about going to DOI, I told him that my previous experience with DOI was not satisfactory. When DOI learned of NYPD’s investigation, they grabbed the case. NYPD was happy to dump the work on someone else.

Two years later, DOI finally notifies NYCERS that an employee in the NYCERS mail room was stealing loan checks. DOI had known for quite awhile about the employee. They, however, kept NYCERS in the dark and vulnerable to loss. After the employee was arrested, DOI complained about the security director’s skepticism of DOI’s work during the investigation. The security director was only following my lead with respect to DOI’s incompetence.

21) Murphy violated the NYCERS handbook when he promoted Browne (even though Aron promoted Browne),
2) Murphy and Browne violated the NYCERS Code of Conduct by having a relationship (even though there is no prohibition in the NYCERS Code of Conduct), and
3) the relationship discredited NYCERS (even though DOI was making the false charges)

3In particular, Aron claims that on numerous occasions (two) that he had told DOI under oath that Browne lied to him about her relationship with me. For the record Aron did mention that Browne denied her relationship but with two different stories. He never used the word “lied”. In addition, at the time Aron told DOI about the denial stories, he had no idea how long the relationship had existed. He therefore, had no logical basis to even make a claim that Browne lied. At the May, 2008 OATH hearing Aron gave conflicting accounts of how he learned about when the relationship started.

Because of a claim to DOI by the former internal audit director, that Browne had regularly visited my office about 30 times a week, Aron states that those 30 visits were to his office, not mine.

He also states that he had given DOI the salary histories of Browne and her predecessor in Administration and that DOI had failed to report that the salary patterns were the same. Aron was responsible for those salaries.

Aron also stated that Browne had nothing to do with Patrice Barnett’s 2004 removal as HR director since Browne had left HR in early 2001. I removed Barnett because of her unstable behavior towards her subordinates. Barnett confirmed her instability in her testimony to DOI. DOI never reported this admission or the glaring time disconnects. It is not an empty charge that DOI, at best, is incompetent.

As icing on the cake, Aron states that prior to promoting Browne as deputy director of Administration, he asked Barnett for her opinion about the promotion. Barnett said that Browne was the most qualified and that she would be able to work with Browne. Aron claims that he told DOI that fact also.

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