The Examiner

Man Charged After Defrauding Chappaqua School District of Nearly $200K

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A Yonkers man obtained nearly $200,000 following a money laundering scheme aimed at defrauding the Chappaqua Central School District.

Ricardo Jimenez, 56, was arraigned in Westchester County Court on Monday and charged with corrupting the government in the first degree, a class B felony and second-degree bribery, a class C felony. He is also charged with second-degree rewarding official misconduct, two counts of money laundering in the fourth degree and conspiracy in the fourth degree, all class E felonies.

Jimenez was an employee of Johnson Controls, Inc., a vendor to the school district, according to the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office.

The indictment alleges that between Nov. 2014 and Aug. 2017, Jimenez and a district employee conspired together to award district work projects to the Jimenez’s company, RJ Summit Services, Inc., officials said. As part of the scheme, Jimenez fraudulently billed CCSD for work performed by co-defendant Jorge Barreiros and other district staff members under the direction of Barreiros.

Officials said when CCSD paid the bills, Jimenez kicked back portions of the payments to Barreiros by paying him in cash and checks made out from another company. In total, Jimenez obtained over $180,000 from the district.

Barreiros, of Cortlandt Manor, pleaded guilty in December to corrupting the government in the second degree, a class C felony, and third-degree bribe receiving, a class D felony. His sentence is still pending, officials said.

Jimenez was released on his own recognizance and is scheduled to return to court on Nov. 18.

Following the hearing, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Christine Ackerman said in the statement the scheme was first brought to her attention in 2017, when a district contractor informed officials that one of its former supervisors was involved in a fraudulent kick-back scheme with a former district maintenance employee.

Ackerman explained the district took immediate action, placing the employee on leave and investigating the situation in conjunction with the District Attorney’s Office. The investigation resulted in the employee resigning in Dec. 2017.

In Oct. 2017, the school officials employed an independent forensic auditor to examine the districts policies and procedures to ensure the strictest guidelines and protocols were being followed to protect the school’s finances against criminal activity. The auditor suggested additional safeguards be implemented, Ackerman said.

“We also notified our insurance company, and we have already recovered a substantial portion of the funds that were overpaid due to this alleged fraudulent activity,” Ackerman said. “Please know that the illegal actions of this former employee in no way represent our district or the trustworthy employees who work in our schools.”

Assistant District Attorney Brian Fitzgerald, Deputy Bureau Chief of the Economic Crimes Bureau, is prosecuting the case.

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