Friday, June 26, 2009

Department of Investigation and Perjury at NYCERS

In a June 5, 2009 posting, I described an act of perjury committed by the current HR director at NYCERS, Felita Baksh, aka Ramsami. The following is a further description of the involvement of three other people with that perjury, one of which was functioning as an investigator for the Department of Investigation (DOI).

DOI is as subject to corruption as any other human organization. In addition, there is no oversight agency with authority to monitor DOI. The Commissioner of DOI serves at the pleasure of the mayor. The mayor can replace her without cause at a moment's notice. It is hard to imagine DOI producing an investigative report that would embarrass the mayor.

In December, 2003 Martha Stark assigned Carol DeFreitas, a Finance Department employee, to work on loan as an investigator with Vincent Green at DOI. For several years, DeFreitas remained on the Finance payroll while continuing to work at DOI. She is now on the DOI payroll with an annual salary of $83,000. DeFreitas is the investigator who suppressed the evidence of Baksh’s perjury.

The following is a July, 2004 time line covering the three people involved with Baksh’s perjury and other possible criminal acts.

  1. On July 13, 2004 DeFreitas interviewed Karen Mazza. Under oath, Mazza admitted to editing Baksh's resume. She further admitted to using email to send the resume to Baksh.
  2. On July 16, 2004, DeFreitas sent an email to NYCERS LAN administrator, Kin Mak, asking whether he could recover deleted emails from approximately 2 months ago.
  3. On July 23, 2004 DeFreitas makes note of phone conversation with Mazza in which Mazza claims to have deleted emails to Baksh about 2 & 1/2 months ago. DeFreitas tells Mazza that the LAN group may be able to retrieve the email and that she will ask them to do that.
  4. In a July 26, 2004 (5:05PM) email DeFreitas requests that Kin Mak give her copies of Mazza’s deleted emails as follows:
    Hello again Kin: I hope you enjoyed your vacation. I'm hoping you could retrieve e-mail(s) deleted by Karen Mazza about 2 and a half months ago. The subject of the email(s) was “resume” and the original sender was Felita Baksh. There may actually be several of these mails on the same topic going back and forth. I've spoken to Karen about this; so if you need additional information to help you in your search, please feel free to contact Karen and please keep this confidential. thank you. Carol.
  5. The following morning, July 27, 2004(7:17AM) Mak emailed DeFreitas as follows:
    Thanks. Mondays are usually my scheduled day off (4 days work week). I will call you this morning to verbally confirm going ahead with the email retrieval. Also I will speak to Karen regarding this matter. Regards,
  6. Three hours later (10:22 AM) Mak sent the following email to DeFreitas:
    Hi Carol: I am forwarding you the email I was able to recover. Please let me know if you need further assistance. Regards,
  7. On July 29, 2004 (10:25AM) Mazza sent the following email to DeFreitas:
    "...Also can you please ask Kin Mak to let you know if anyone in house asks to see my deleted emails? I am somewhat uncomfortable with this info being recoverable. I'm sure you can understand why."

DeFreitas’ behavior during this time is very suspicious. She was looking to retrieve evidence that could be very damaging to a target of an investigation. She then allowed the target to control the search for the evidence. She also suspected that there were several emails. This might indicate other assistance that Mazza may have given Baksh. There were allegations about Baksh’s final writing test. The test was the basis on which she was hired. Of course, the actual emails would have clarified the situation.

When Mak retrieved only one email, DeFreitas made no attempt to check into the email system at the Fire Department where Baksh worked before returning to NYCERS. In fact Baksh’s Fire Department email address was on the one email that Mak allegedly retrieved. DeFreitas took no action in response to the admission by Mazza that Mazza did not want any NYCERS staff seeing her deleted emails. Mazza clearly knew that they are recoverable from the backup tapes. DeFreitas obviously knew this too. The existence of the deleted emails is further confirmed below.

In an affidavit, notarized by Mazza on June 19, 2007, Mak gives the details of this email search on the morning of July 27, 2004. The relevant testimony is as follows:

3. My search for the emails requested by Ms. DeFreitas was structured as follows. First, the period for the search was January 2004 through July 27, 2004, the date of Ms DeFreitas' request. Second, I searched for two types of emails: (1) e-mails in Ms. Mazza's e-mail box in which Ms. Mazza was either the sender or the recipient and "resume" was the subject of the e-mail; and (2) e-mails in Ms Mazza's e-mail box in which Felita Baksh, was either the sender or recipient at the e-mail address of, and which either had “resume” in the subject field or the substance of the e-mail concerned Ms. Baksh's resume. I conducted the search for the above e-mails by: (a) searching Ms. Mazza's then current e-mail box, i.e., the email box as it existed on July 27, 2004; and (b) searching the weekly backup tapes starting from July 27, 2004, and going backward to January 2004. 4. As a result of the above search, I was able to recover one e-mail, dated January 28, 2004, in which the original sender was Felita Baksh at, the subject of which was "Resume" and which had been sent by Ms. Baksh to Niki Browne NYCERS, who forwarded it to Ms. Mazza. On July 27, 2004, I forwarded the recovered e-mail to Ms. DeFreitas.

It is clear that Mak would have you believe that he was able to find only one of Mazza's allegedly deleted emails. However, shortly after this affidavit Mak was forced to admit that he did not find this email in Mazza's email box on line or on the backup tapes. He had to admit that he actually found it in the active email box of Niki Browne who had forwarded it to Mazza and who had no reason to delete it.

While this means that Mak made a false statement in his affidavit, the truly bizarre fact about Mak's description of his e-mail search is that it is a total fabrication and a physical impossibility.

Each backup tape would have taken at least two hours to search, assuming no problems, and he claims to have searched 27 backup tapes. It is clearly impossible to have searched 27 backup tapes in three hours. It would have taken him at least 54 straight hours to perform the search. Just putting your hands on 27 tapes in three hours would have been a miracle, never mind down loading them and searching them for specific info. Mak never provided any documentation verifying the search.

During a subsequent deposition, Kin Mak, under advice of counsel, refused to answer any questions about the search. The deposition was ordered because Mak told Niki Browne that he had found many incriminating e-mails and that Mazza, DeFreitas, and Baksh were all dirty. This occurred on October 12, 2006 at NYCERS and in the phone calls later that evening and during the next three days. During the deposition, Mak attempted to deny having had these phone conversations but when presented with phone records, he changed his testimony.

What do we have now? For the last five years the city has been paying four city officials who are most likely guilty of criminal acts involving their official duties. DOI is facing the serious possibility of a corrupt investigator who suppressed evidence of perjury and conspired with a target to hide evidence during an investigation. NYCERS has three corrupt employees, a HR director who is perjurer, a legal director who hides evidence and lures another employee into making false statements, and a senior IT manager who allowed himself to be drawn into a conspiracy and then forced to commit perjury.

It is actually perverse that Mazza and Baksh are responsible for the termination of dozens of NYCERS employees. One of those employees is actually being terminated for wearing jeans for one day to work after an office fire.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Perjury at NYCERS

Listed at the end of this posting is part of an interview of a NYCERS employee, Felita Baksh, conducted by a NYC Dept. of Investigations (DOI) investigator, Daniel Lau, on July 13, 2004. Following the text of the interview is a excerpt from a letter written by Vincent Green, a DOI IG for Finance, on March 1, 2005. Finally, there is listed a part of DOI interview conducted, also on July 13, 2004, with another NYCERS employee, Karen Mazza, who contradicts Baksh's testimony.

Based on the DOI excerpt it is quite clear that Baksh lied under oath when being questioned by DOI. At the time Baksh was the HR director at NYCERS and still is. Mr. Lau, however, was not the chief investigator assigned to the investigation. That person was Carol DeFreitas.

Strangely, Ms. DeFreitas was an employee of the Department of Finance and not DOI. In late December, 2003 she was loaned to DOI through an agreement between Martha Stark, the Finance Commissioner, and Vincent Green, the IG for Finance.

The NYCERS Board of Trustees had originally requested the investigation which was the reason for the interviews. Subsequently, at the close of the investigation Vincent Green, in the March 1, 2005 letter, failed to report the perjury by Baksh to the NYCERS Board of Trustees. The letter was addressed to Martha Stark who was also the chair of the NYCERS Board. In addition, Green misstates what Mazza had actually admitted in her testimony. He also never mentions the fact that Mazza attempted to destroy emails between her and Baksh involving the resume or the fact that DeFreitas allowed Mazza to hide the emails with help from the LAN administrator at NYCERS.

In light of the circumstances surrounding Stark's recent forced resignation, this reporting failure by Green raises many questions. There is also the fact that in September, 2005, as part of litigation against NYCERS an attorney at the NYC Law Department was notified of allegations of Stark's involvment with an senior employee at Finance and other more serious charges involving pension investments. That attorney was Paul Marks.

Unfortunately, Baksh is still the HR director at NYCERS. She has since changed her name to Ramsami. Since 2005, Baksh has terminated dozens of NYCERS employees for trivial infractions. In addition, COIB has since found Baksh, a.k.a. Ramsami, in violation of NYC Charter regulations, in particular using a subordinate's credit card.

Inconceivably, Baksh subsequently fired the subordinate with an assist from Mazza. It may have something to do with the fact that the subordinate knew that Mazza had administered the final writing test to Baksh in 2004, which was the basis of her hiring as HR director.

Early this year I notified the NYCERS trustees and the DOI Commissioner of Baksh's perjury. Only one trustee, the Public Advocate, responded by forwarding the complaint to DOI. DOI responded to the the Public Advocate who then again notified me. I wonder how long it will take DOI to produce a professional response and how long the trustees will allow Baksh to stay as HR director?

From July 13, 2004 Baksh interview with DOI:

Lau: On that note, I’m only going to re-ask you one question and you’ve answered this before but I just want to make sure. I want to affirm that you are still under oath. That when you applied for the position nobody helped you with your resume, you said.

Baksh: No, no one changed anything on my resume. The only change that I remembered that they said and I remembered it because the e-mail said there’s only one thing that I’m missing. I’m sorry that we have to change this is on the cover letter.

Lau: And that was who?

Baksh:I’m a stickler or something like that.

Lau:That was Karen?

Baksh: Yes. I’m sorry. (phone rings)

Lau: Sure.

Baksh: That’s gotta be my children ……… - Sorry.

Lau: No problem. So you were saying. So Karen didn’t - just the cover letter.

Baksh: Yeah only the cover. She only did one – right.

Lau: One minor correction.

Tavarez: But Niki made the cover letter?

Baksh: Huh?

Lau: Well Niki also reviewed the cover?

Tavarez: Niki was the one who reviewed your cover letter

Baksh: They both but Niki – but Karen is the one that’s probably – I think Karen was the one who said it’s just that one word in the cover.

Tavarez: That was it. That was it.

Baksh: Niki didn’t have any changes to my resume. None at all. And I remember saying, you didn’t see anything you would change – any wor and she was like – no. But I think she was too busy. You know she just she was just getting into her position too.

From March 1, 2005 DOI report:

In addition, Karen Mazza, the NYCERS General Counsel, acknowledged to this office that she helped Baksh with her resume by suggesting she move things around. "

From July 13, 2004 Mazza interview with DOI:

Ancrum: Karen, the letter writer indicated that you had helped Felita in her application process. Specifically with her resume.

Mazza: The answer to that is yes. I help a lot of people with their resume. I have a reputation within our agency and among people who know me as being a real stickler for resumes. I’ve done a lot of interviewing over the course of my career – not myself – interviewing people and hiring – um – so people know I will look for and I will find, you know, the comma that’s in the wrong place, or the, you know, when you switch from plural to singular in the paragraph. So a lot of people come to me and ask me to look at their resumes and I never say no, and she came to me and asked me if I would look at her resume and I said yes.

DeFreitas: Did you look at anybody else’s resume that applied for the position?

Mazza: Nobody else – I didn’t know anybody else who applied – I said – I take that back. I do know Aurora Perez – I know her because our kids went to Pre-K together – our kids are not in 5th grade – but I don’t know her – but she would never call me and ask me to look at her resume.

DeFreitas: Did you make changes, Karen, to her resume?

Mazza: I suggested, you know, I may have suggested like, you know, switching words around or paragraphs around – like that – I don’t know if she made the changes because I didn’t…

DeFreitas: Because it was a suggestion, but you brought her into your office, you told her look – you need to change this around – do this – do that – it wasn’t something that you yourself physically took her resume and made revisions to it and made revisions to it yourself.

Mazza: She e-mailed it to me.

DeFreitas: OK

Mazza:And what I did was, you know, tracking on – how you do tracking on Word – with tracking I said I would move this here – I would do this, I would do that…


Mazza:So – that’s – so I didn’t meet with her to do it.

DeFreitas: Uhmmm

Mazza: We did it by…

DeFreitas: E-mail.

Mazza: Yeah.