Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Queens School Custodian Used Thousands in Taxpayer Cash for Home Repairs, Supplies: DOE Officials by Adam Lisberg - NY Daily News

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A Queens school custodian cleaned out taxpayers' wallets by using janitors to work on his home and billing the city for thousands of dollars worth of detergent, light bulbs and toilet paper, officials said.

Gerard O'Brien, a 20-year custodian who resigned from the Department of Education in February, agreed to pay a $20,000 fine in a decision released Monday by the Conflicts of Interest Board.

"We were about to discipline him," said DOE spokeswoman Marge Feinberg. "He was facing serious disciplinary charges, and he retired."

He said he bought personal supplies at three stores but billed them to John Adams High School in Ozone Park, using false invoices to cover his tracks.

"I purchased items with DOE funds for my personal use, such as Tide, Cascade, Wisk, Boutique tissues, Charmin toilet paper, and hand soap," O'Brien wrote in his settlement.

"From 2001 to the present, I submitted 10 to 15 false Best Paint invoices to DOE," he wrote.

"I purchased items with DOE funds for my personal use, such as bug cleaner, weed killer and 60 watt bulbs, which items were not used at John Adams."

He also said he used school custodial staff to paint his house and install shelves on DOE time, and had another custodian use a city power washer to clean his deck.

O'Brien and his lawyer could not be reached for comment.