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Robert Serpico is the CFO of the Battery Park City Authority and has survived virtually unscathed throughout numerous BPCA administration scandals. Will he survive again as Mr. Teflon?
Mr. Serpico survived the ousting of the James Gill BPCA administration that culminated in a harsh report issued by the New York State Inspector General accusing the BPCA of financial misconduct, among other things. As the CFO, he was somehow not found to be part of the problem. Perhaps the hundreds of millions of Battery Park City tax dollars that he funneled to the state in 2010 bought him some goodwill from then Governor Paterson. Others say that he cooperated with the inspectors to save his skin.
The Bill Thompson BPCA administration resulted in the abrupt departure of Chairman Thompson. His appointed president, Gayle Horwitz, also left after scandals involving her handling of the Asphalt Green community center were exposed by BatteryPark.TV. Somehow, Teflon Serpico survived that as well as the new Chairman, Dennis Mehiel, kept him on staff.
With each changing of the guard, Mr. Serpico rose in power as he became one of the few employees with “institutional memory”. With the ability of the BPCA to raise hundreds of millions in bonds to aid the state and city budgets, the governors and mayors undoubtedly found Mr. Serpico of use, also allowing him to weather the storms.
Now, under the Dennis Mehiel administration, the scandals are starting to point directly toward Mr. Serpico: a man who has a thick human resources file relating to decades of sexual harassment related issues leveled against him, according to sources close to the BPCA.
The photo at top is one of many with sexually inappropriate content sent to BPCA employees by Mr. Serpico, which were sent to the State Inspector General as a formal complaint. The investigation went nowhere.
In May of this year, a BPCA employee named Kirk Swanson was fired and he filed a complaint with the governor’s office. In his letter, he listed as one of his observations of BPCA misconduct an incident regarding sexual harassment that was mishandled by Mr. Serpico. Mr. Swanson wrote, “A female paralegal (Elizabeth (Elsa) Papanicolaou), who is the subject of a recent report filed with Anne Hohenstein of the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations….was subjected to an overly-aggressive, personal, and humiliating interrogation regarding her office dress by Brenda McIntyre, the current Vice President of Human Relations….(Elsa) approached the then-acting President, Robert Serpico, to apprise him of Ms. McIntyre’s conduct and to seek his help and advice and to formally complain about her treatment. Mr. Serpico’s response, I was told, was to downplay the event and to further humiliate her through a sexually inappropriate gesture that made an issue of her body shape and apparent attractiveness.”
Two of the in-house lawyers for the BPCA, Nancy Harvey and Allyson Ford, began to investigate the matter. Both were African American women and both were subsequently fired or forced out after they began looking into Mr. Serpico (Of note, this came after an unrelated scandal within the BPCA whereby African American employees accused the former president, Demetri Boutris, of using the N-word).
Sources have exclusively told BatteryPark.TV that when the state investigators requested files on Mr. Serpico recently, that the HR manager, Ms. McIintyre, withheld crucial files on Mr. Serpico that would have incriminated him. If true, that would be obstruction of a state investigation into a civil rights matter.
Perhaps feeling the pressure and looking to save his job using the tactics that have succeeded in the past, Mr. Serpico seems to be orchestrating a coup d’état of Dennis Mehiel and his president, Shari Hyman.
On Friday, October 17th. Mr. Serpico posted anonymous tips to the BatteryPark.TV message boards informing us that Ms. Hyman had been asked to resign. Mr. Serpico used the fake name of Joe Albertson, which BatteryPark.TV has traced back to Mr. Serpico.
It is well known amongst BPCA insiders that Chairman Mehiel and President Hyman are not good allies with Mr. Serpico. Accordingly, Mr. Serpico’s tips to us incriminated both individuals as well as Kevin McCabe, Mehiel’s administrative assistant.
Whether by luck or cunning duplicity, Mr. Serpico’s anonymous tips to us also turned Ms. Hyman against the Vice-Chairman of the board, Frank Branchini, pitting two of Mr. Serpico’s enemies against one another. Ms. Hyam assumed that the BatteryPark.TV tips were coming from Mr. Branchini, and she then started a war with him by accusing Branchini of being the leaker.
This is not the first time that Mr. Serpico has been a conniving mole that strategically leaked information. Before Gayle Horwitz was ousted, she complained to BPCA insiders that Serpico was leaking information to hurt her.
If the BPCA scandal of the day turns from being one of Mr. Serpico to becoming one of misconduct by a board member or the departure of President Hyman, then Mr. Serpico could very well survive another BPCA change in administration.
However, our sources tell us that the governor’s office is now essentially running the BPCA and Chairman/CEO Mehiel has been pushed aside. With the election just weeks away, there could be little tolerance in Albany for a scandal involving the firing of two African American female lawyers who were simply doing their jobs, and a third young female employee who raised concerns over sexual harassment and was pushed out (Note, the several other scandals are in addition to the ones detailed in this report).