ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE [AI] IS NOT USED, IN WHOLE OR IN PART, IN PREPARING NYPPL SUMMARIES OF JUDICIAL AND QUASI-JUDICIAL DECISIONS

August 31, 2010

Report alleges NYS Department of Corrections’ former Food Production Center director violated the Public Officers Law

Report alleges NYS Department of Corrections’ former Food Production Center director violated the Public Officers Law
Source: The Office of the State Comptroller

The former director of the State Department of Corrections’ (DOCS) prison food production operation and his staff routinely traded favors and gifts with favored businesses that were rewarded with millions of dollars in state purchases according to a report released by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli and State Inspector General Joseph Fisch dated August 31, 2010.

DiNapoli’s and Fisch’s audit and investigation centered on Howard Dean, the former director of the Food Production Center, and his staff. The Comptroller's Office said that DiNapoli and Fisch have forwarded the findings of their report to the Oneida County District Attorney’s Office and the State Commission on Public Integrity.

Comptroller DiNapoli said “Corruption should never be tolerated on any level. But the abuses we discovered here, at a state criminal justice agency, committed at a time when New York’s taxpayers are finding it harder and harder to make ends meet, are beyond the pale. And all of this mushroomed in a culture of acceptance at DOCS. We’re referring our findings to law enforcement and public integrity officials.”

State's Inspector General Fisch commented that “Once again, we witness another distressing spectacle by this public official who did not hesitate to violate the law and his oath of office in order to reap personal reward and benefits. For 13 years, Dean enjoyed free parties and picnics while not only steering $2.5 million in business to favored vendors, but to vendors who are prohibited from doing business in New York State.”

Among the findings:

1. In violation of the State's Public Officers Law, "for at least 13 years, Dean and other DOCS staff were provided free meals by at least two vendors – Global Food Industries (GFI) and Good Source – that had $2.5 million annually in purchases with the Food Production Center. "

"2. Dean directed Sysco Food Services to use these two vendors as suppliers, thereby guaranteeing them $1.7 million annually in business with DOCS.

"3. Sysco’s purchase of products from the South Carolina-based GFI at Dean’s direction helped Dean and GFI skirt around New York State Finance Law which prohibits state agencies from doing business directly with companies that reside in states, like South Carolina, that discriminate against NYS businesses.

"4. Likewise, Dean directed NYS Industries for the Disabled, a preferred source of state purchases, to purchase products from GFI, again allowing GFI to make money off of state purchases contrary to the law. GFI made $796,000 annually through this arrangement.

"5. Dean and his staff solicited free food and donations from vendors for an annual Christmas party and a three-day-long annual picnic. Any left-over moneys were deposited in an employee benefit fund and used for food production center employee benefits throughout the year, including morning bagels.

"In addition, the Comptroller and the Inspector General stated that 'Vendors often bid on donated items with proceeds going to the employee benefit fund. All Correctional Services employees, including those at the highest levels of the organization, were invited to the picnic at no cost. Management should have questioned how such an event could be hosted by a state agency at no cost to employees or their families.'"

"DiNapoli’s auditors found no documentation demonstrating that millions of dollars in purchases were based on open competition. In fact, one favored vendor was tipped off about the potential missing ingredient essential in the production of cheese sauce the Food Production Center wished to utilize. Because none of the other vendors had this inside information, the favored vendor received the state’s business.

"Internal controls that might have prevented Dean from engaging in this conduct were virtually non-existent at DOCS. One supervisor, Russell DiBello, former Correctional Services Chief Fiscal Officer, stated that he saw no need to monitor Dean – despite that Dean managed a $55 million budget – because he received no inmate complaints about food.

"DiNapoli and Fisch have recommended that DOCS officials institute safeguards to ensure these abuses don’t occur in the future, and assist the Oneida County District Attorney and the State Commission on Public Integrity as needed. State law requires the DOCS commissioner to report to the Governor, Comptroller and leaders of state legislative committees what corrective action the department has taken, and if action is not taken, why."

The complete text of the report is posted on the Internet at: http://www.osc.state.ny.us/audits/allaudits/093010/09s6.pdf
.

CAUTION

Subsequent court and administrative rulings, or changes to laws, rules and regulations may have modified or clarified or vacated or reversed the decisions summarized here. Accordingly, these summaries should be Shepardized® or otherwise checked to make certain that the most recent information is being considered by the reader.
THE MATERIAL ON THIS WEBSITE IS FOR INFORMATION ONLY. AGAIN, CHANGES IN LAWS, RULES, REGULATIONS AND NEW COURT AND ADMINISTRATIVE DECISIONS MAY AFFECT THE ACCURACY OF THE INFORMATION PROVIDED IN THIS LAWBLOG. THE MATERIAL PRESENTED IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE AND THE USE OF ANY MATERIAL POSTED ON THIS WEBSITE, OR CORRESPONDENCE CONCERNING SUCH MATERIAL, DOES NOT CREATE AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP.
New York Public Personnel Law Blog Editor Harvey Randall served as Principal Attorney, New York State Department of Civil Service; Director of Personnel, SUNY Central Administration; Director of Research, Governor’s Office of Employee Relations; and Staff Judge Advocate General, New York Guard. Consistent with the Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations, the material posted to this blog is presented with the understanding that neither the publisher nor NYPPL and, or, its staff and contributors are providing legal advice to the reader and in the event legal or other expert assistance is needed, the reader is urged to seek such advice from a knowledgeable professional.
New York Public Personnel Law. Email: publications@nycap.rr.com