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2 Lafayette Street, Suite 1010 New York, New York 10007 (212) 442-1400 Fax: (212) 442-1407 TDD: (212) 442-1443
Nicholas Scoppetta Chair/Board Member Monica Blum Board Member Andrew Irving Board Member Burton Lehman Board Member Erika Thomas-Yuille Board Member ____________ Mark Davies Executive Director Wayne G. Hawley Deputy Executive Director & General Counsel Carolyn Lisa Miller Director of Enforcement Julia Davis Special Counsel & Director of Annual Disclosure Alex Kipp Director of Training & Education Varuni Bhagwant Director of Administration Derick Yu Director of Information Technology
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE January 23, 2013
CONTACT: Carolyn Lisa Miller (212) 442-1419 Miller@coib.nyc.gov
CHILDREN FIRST NETWORK LEADER FINED $7,500 FOR SOLICITING BUSINESS FOR A PRIVATE FIRM WHERE HE PLANNED TO WORK
The New York City Conflicts of Interest Board (“Board”) fined a New York City Department of Education (“DOE”) Children First Network Leader $7,500 for his violations of the City of New York’s conflicts of interest law. In a public disposition, the Children First Network Leader admitted that he met with principals whose schools were supported by his Children First Network, an internal DOE school support organization, and informed them that he would be taking a position at the Center for Educational Innovation - Public Education Association (“CEI-PEA”), a private school support organization, after which all of the principals elected CEI-PEA as their school support organization. The Children First Network Leader acknowledged that his conduct violated the City’s conflicts of interest law, which prohibits a City employee from attempting to obtain an advantage for a firm with which he or she is associated by virtue of a job offer and which additionally prohibits a City employee from representing private interests before a City agency for compensation. For these violations, the Children First Network paid a $7,500 fine to the Board. A copy of the disposition is attached here. Erin Thompson, Assistant Counsel, handled this case for the Board. The Board gratefully acknowledges the work of its confidential investigative arm, the New York City Department of Investigation (“DOI”), DOI Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn, Special Commissioner of Investigation for the New York City School District (“SCI”) Richard J. Condon, and SCI Investigator Richard Werdann, who handled the investigation. The Conflicts of Interest Board is the City’s ethics board and is charged with interpreting and enforcing the City’s the conflicts of interest,
financial disclosure, and lobbyist gift laws. Anyone with information about possible violations of the law is urged to contact the Board through its website (http://nyc.gov/ethics) or by calling (212) 442-1400. More information about the law is available on the Board’s website. The Board does not comment on its dispositions, except as set forth above. All of the Board’s dispositions are available free of charge, in full-text searchable form, on the website for the Center for New York City Law at New York Law School (www.CityAdmin.org). For additional public information about the Board’s enforcement activities, including summaries of all enforcement dispositions and fines imposed, visit: www.nyc.gov/html/conflicts/html/units/enforcement.shtml.
THE CITY OF NEW YORK CONFLICTS OF INTEREST BOARD ----------------------------------------------------- x : In the Matter of : : : ROBERT COHEN : : : Respondent. : : ----------------------------------------------------- x
DISPOSITION COIB Case No. 2012-322
WHEREAS, the New York City Conflicts of Interest Board (the “Board”) commenced an enforcement action pursuant to Section 2603(h)(1) of Chapter 68 of the New York City Charter (“Chapter 68”) against Robert Cohen (“Respondent”); and WHEREAS, the Board and Respondent wish to resolve this matter on the following terms; IT IS HEREBY AGREED by and among the parties as follows: 1. In full satisfaction of the above-captioned matter, Respondent admits to the following: a. Since October 21, 1971, I have been an employee of the New York City Department of Education (“DOE”), most recently as the Network Leader for DOE’s Children First Network 104 (“CFN 104”). As such, I am a “public servant” within the meaning of Chapter 68. b. DOE requires its principals to collaborate with a school support organization. Principals may choose Children First Network teams, internal DOE school support organizations, or school support organizations run by private vendors. c. On February 7, 2012, the Center for Educational Innovation - Public Education Association (“CEI-PEA”), a school support organization run by a private vendor, offered to employ me upon my retirement from DOE. d. In March 2012, when I met with principals whose schools were supported by CFN 104 and informed them that I would be retiring from CFN 104 in order to take a position at CEI-PEA, I deliberately ignored the subtext of my remarks to those principals, with its purport that they elect CEI-PEA instead of CFN 104 to be their school support organization.
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e. Following my meetings with the CFN 104 principals, all of the CFN 104 principals notified DOE that they wished to transfer to the CEI-PEA support network. After DOE denied permission to transfer to CEI-PEA to 18 of the 31 CFN 104 schools, I wrote an email to the DOE Chancellor on behalf of the CFN 104 schools, requesting permission for the CFN 104 schools that had successfully elected to the CEI-PEA support network to change their school support organization choice back to CFN 104. DOE allowed the CFN 104 principals to change their school support organization choices. f. At this time, I have not retired from DOE or taken a position with CEI-PEA. g. While I was unaware of this at the time, I now acknowledge that, because I deliberately ignored the subtext of my remarks to the principals in March 2012, with its purport that they elect to purchase the support services of CEI-PEA instead of CFN 104, my presentation at that meeting constituted an attempt to obtain an advantage for CEI-PEA, a firm with which I was associated by virtue of its job offer, and thus I violated Chapter 68, specifically City Charter § 2604(b)(3), which states: No public servant shall use or attempt to use his or her position as a public servant to obtain any financial gain, contract, license, privilege or other private or personal advantage, direct or indirect, for the public servant or any person or firm associated with the public servant. h. While I was unaware of this at the time, I now acknowledge that my presentation to the principals in March 2012 in my capacity as a future CEI-PEA employee constituted an appearance in violation of Chapter 68, specifically City Charter § 2604(b)(6), which states: No public servant shall, for compensation, represent private interests before any city agency or appear directly or indirectly on behalf of private interests in matters involving the city. For a public servant who is not a regular employee, this prohibition shall apply only to the agency served by the public servant. 2. In recognition of the foregoing, Respondent agrees to the following: a. I agree to pay a fine of Seven Thousand Five Hundred Dollars ($7,500) by money order or by cashier, bank, or certified check, made payable to the “New York City Conflicts of Interest Board,” at the time of my signing of this Disposition. b. This Disposition is a public and final resolution of the Board’s charges against me.
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c. I knowingly waive on my behalf and on behalf of my successors and assigns any rights to commence any judicial or administrative proceeding or appeal before any court of competent jurisdiction, administrative tribunal, political subdivision, or office of the City or the State of New York or the United States, and to contest the lawfulness, authority, jurisdiction, or power of the Board or the DOE in imposing the penalty which is embodied in this Disposition, and I waive any right to make any legal or equitable claims or to initiate legal proceedings of any kind against the Board or the DOE, or any members or employees thereof relating to or arising out of this Disposition or the matters recited therein. d. I confirm that I have entered into this Disposition freely, knowingly, and intentionally, without coercion or duress, and after having had the opportunity to be represented by an attorney of my choice; that I accept all terms and conditions contained herein without reliance on any other promises or offers previously made or tendered by any past or present representative of the Board; and that I fully understand all the terms of this Disposition. e. I agree that any material misstatement of the facts of this matter, including of the Disposition, by me or by my attorney or agent shall, at the discretion of the Board, be deemed a waiver of confidentiality of this matter. 3. The Board accepts this Disposition and the terms contained herein as a final disposition of the above-captioned matter only, and affirmatively state that other than as recited herein, no further action will be taken by the Board against Respondent based upon the facts and circumstances set forth herein, except that the Board shall be entitled to take any and all actions necessary to enforce the terms of this Disposition. 4. This Disposition shall not be effective until all parties have affixed their signatures below. Dated: _______12/28/12_________ Robert Cohen Respondent Dated: _______12/28/12_________ /s/ Richard F.X. Guay Meyer, Suozzi, English & Klein, P.C. Counsel for Respondent /s/
/s/ Nicholas Scoppetta Chair NYC Conflicts of Interest Board
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