Westchester County

Former NY School Official Pleads Guilty to Taking $150K in Bribes: Prosecutors

A former Westchester County school official pleaded guilty of taking more than $150,000 in bribes over four years, federal officials announced.

John C. Gallagher, the former director of environmental services for the New Rochelle School District, admitted on Tuesday that he took cash bribes from a construction company, then kept the cash in his car trunk so he could use the money for personal expenses without being detected. 

"As he admitted today, John Gallagher demanded and received more than $150,000 in cash bribes from a contractor for the school district where Gallagher worked," said Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim. "As a school district employee, Gallagher was a public servant, whose job it was to do what was in the best interest of schoolchildren and taxpayers. Instead, Gallagher corruptly did what was in his own interests, lining his pockets with bribes."

Prosecutors said that from Gallagher solicited and accepted cash bribes from an outside contractor between 2009-13, then used that company for work at the district. Overseeing the school district’s buildings and grounds, Gallagher had control over which contractors were hired as well as when and how contractors were paid for work.

Mauro Zonzini, the owner of the construction company, was contracted with the New Rochelle school district to do building work each year. Gallagher met Zonzini -- who also pleaded guilty to federal charges -- in parking lots for 10-percent kickbacks each time Zonzini's company was awarded a contract with the district. 

Prosecutors said Gallagher then hid the cash -- more than $150,000 in all -- in his car and used it to pay for personal expenses.

Gallagher faces up to 10 years behind bars and is set to be sentenced on January 9; Zonzini’s sentencing is on February 16.

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