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  • Mamaroneck Observer

Ethics Board: Barberio Violated Ethics Code

By Cindy Goldstein -

 

In a March 18, 2024 Decision, the Village Ethics Board (EB) found former Village Manager Jerry Barberio in violation of the Village Ethics Code but decided to end the matter at this time since Barberio is no longer employed by the Village.

 

Background

The complaint, filed June 9, 2023, cited Code Section 21-4 E(1)(e) which prohibits the hiring of a family member of an elected official.  Barberio had hired the brother of Trustee Leilani Yizar-Reid as a laborer.  There was also a question of whether or not there was an appearance of impropriety in the brother’s hiring as “payback for the trustee’s support of Mr. Barberio’s salary increase.”  See full Decision HERE.  See prior article HERE

 

Investigation

The details of the investigation are outlined in the Decision which includes transcripts of interviews with Barberio, Yizar-Reid, Harbor Master Jeff LaRusso and Human Resources Director Danielle Gilliard.  Barberio, LaRusso and Yizar-Reid attended the interviews represented by legal counsel.

 

Each of the individuals interviewed stated they had no knowledge of the nepotism section of the Code of Ethics, including the two individuals responsible for all Village hiring – the Village Manager (officially designated the hiring manager) and Danielle Gilliard, the Human Resources Director.

 

During his October 30th interview Barberio stated he had never read the Code of Ethics and was unaware of any anti-nepotism clause despite the fact that when he was hired in February 2019, he signed an acknowledgement letter that he received and reviewed the Code of Ethics. 


Editor’s Note: In a letter dated February 14, 2020 Barberio also cited provisions of the Code in response to a complaint received against a member of the EB.  See HERE.

 

Gilliard specifically stated when she was first hired by the Village (in a different capacity) she only received a summary of the Code provisions and did not have to sign off on having received it.  However, she went on to say she had read the Code of Ethics when originally hired and had signed off as having received it but did not recall the nepotism section.  The transcript is not clear as to exactly when Gilliard read the Code.  As Human Resources Director, Gilliard participated in interviewing Yizar-Reid’s brother.

 

Both Barberio and Gilliard were unable to recall the answers to many of the EB members’ other questions.  Referring mostly to dates and conversations with others, Barberio responded “I don’t recall” nine times as shown in the transcript that was made a part of the decision.

 

The investigation also included forensic examinations of Village emails and text messages that revealed only one instance of contradictory evidence.  Also, despite the requirement, Barberio’s Village phone may not have been used for all his work calls and texts between March 2022 and August 2023 and therefore, the EB’s investigation may not have been complete.  Additionally, because of the purchase of a new work phone for Barberio in March 2023 some data would not have been recoverable if it had been deleted.  Furthermore, none of the devices examined were synched with cloud storage (which would have retained deleted material) and the EB could not determine what, if any, information was not available to them.

 

Waiver

Code Section 21-15 provides that a waiver of the Code requirements may be granted by the EB in their discretion.  The EB granted the waiver for the trustee’s brother to work for the Village on November 29, 2023 (See HERE) approximately eight months after he applied to work in the Harbor Master’s office.

 

Findings

The EB found that Barberio violated section 21-4 E (1) (e) by hiring Trustee Yizar-Reid’s brother.  They went on to find that Barberio and HR Director Gilliard should have been aware of the nepotism section of the Code and initiated a request for a waiver.  Neither Yizar-Reid nor her brother were responsible for applying for a waiver.

 

The EB found that the brother’s qualifications for the job did not appear inferior to any other applicants for the job and the EB granted a post-hiring waiver of the nepotism section.  Not granting the waiver, the EB stated, would be unnecessarily punitive.

 

The EB declined to take further action as Barberio has now left the employ of the Village of Mamaroneck and additional costs would be incurred if they pursued a formal complaint.   They cited the cost of conducting the investigation including forensic technical services to find potentially deleted emails and mobile phone data as well as the legal fees payable to the lawyers representing the Village employees who appeared for interviews.


Editor’s Note: If the EB assessed a fine for the violation, the Village would have to pay the fine to itself if Barberio had applied for and received indemnification under Village Code Chapter 36.

 

In the Village’s current budget cycle, the Ethics Board has asked for a separate budget for funding investigations.  See HERE. The Board of Trustees is also continuing to evaluate proposed changes to the ethics code in what has been an ongoing and multi-year review.



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