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In yet another questionable move, The Battery Park City Authority’s (BPCA) Chairman/CEO, Dennis Mehiel, hired a staffer as a full-time in-house BPCA employee even though the staffer creates a conflict of interest. Daniel Curiale, CPA worked at the accounting firm Marks Paneth & Shron LLF prior to joining the BPCA, where he now earns at least $98,000 in salary. Marks Paneth & Shron LLF is the firm hired by the BPCA to do the external audits, or essentially be the “watchdog” over the authority.
Mr. Curiale is one of just 18 new hires under the Mehiel BPCA administration. Recall, the previous BPCA administration under Bill Thompson fired 19 employees, ostensibly to reduce head count and adjust to the new lesser role of the authority as the construction phase ends. Mr. Thompson abruptly resigned from the BPCA before he could restock with his own cronies. Mr. Mehiel has now replaced the 19 heads chopped with his own hires.
The decision to hire away an employee from Marks Paneth & Shron LLF seemed to have raised red flags with the accounting firm. In the January BPCA board meeting, a partner from Marks Paneth & Shron LLF mentioned the hiring of the then unnamed employee as a possible conflict of interest (see video).
Marks Paneth & Shron LLF is supposed to be an independent accounting firm. The fact that the BPCA pays for their services reduces that independence right away. For the BPCA to actually create a “revolving door” and hire staff from Marks Paneth & Shron LLF raises serious ethical issues.