Suffolk IT chief accused of telling staffer to make up requisition number

Suffolk County's information technology commissioner Donald Rodgers, 60, Suffolk County's information technology commissioner Donald Rodgers, 60, leaves First District Court in Central Islip after being arraigned Thursday, May 8, 2014, charged with two misdemeanors -- both official misconduct -- in connection with the Bellone administration's bid last year for a multimillion dollar software deal with Microsoft. Photo Credit: James Carbone

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Joye Brown Newsday columnist Joye Brown

Joye Brown has been a columnist for Newsday since 2006. She joined the newspaper in 1983 and has ...

One of the more interesting tidbits arising from allegations against Donald Rodgers, Suffolk's information technology commissioner, is that he instructed a subordinate to conjure up a fake requisition number for a letter of intent Rodgers fired off to a computer company last year.

Thomas Perino, who told prosecutors that he works in the IT budget office, told them that Rodgers pressured him to make up a number.

According to court papers, Perino told prosecutors that he was alone in the office on March 29, 2013 -- Good Friday -- when Rodgers said he needed a requisition number for a letter of intent he was sending to Dell.

"I explained to him that to get a requisition number from the system, the money [for a proposed Microsoft/Dell contract] had to be approved in the budget, and that it was not in the budget and had not been approved," Perino said, according to court papers.

Rodgers "then asked me to make up a temporary number so he can be (sic) use it in a letter of intent and needed any number for the letter," Perino told prosecutors.

"He assured me that if the money was never approved, it would not go into the ISMS [computer] system. I told him that the number would not be a real number because it was not budgeted," Perino said.

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"I was very uncomfortable in what he was asking for and had never made up a fake requisition number before," Perino said. "I felt very pressured by him; he is the commissioner and top guy and when he asked me to do something, I felt that I had no choice."

He told prosecutors that if either of his immediate supervisors had been present, "I would not have been put in that position [but] they were both off for the holiday."

Rodgers, the witness told prosecutors, "Told me it was urgent to get the letter of intent completed and [that] he had to get a requisition number on it. He asked me for a number and I verbally made it up."

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The number Perino made up was: IT13MSEA000.

That is, IT -- for information technology -- 13 -- for the year -- MSEA -- for Microsoft Enterprise Agreement -- 000 -- so it would be consistent with an actual county requisition number.

"Don typed it up as I told him," Perino told prosecutors.

Rodgers was arrested Thursday on a felony charge of offering a false instrument for filing -- for failing to report ownership or income from a consulting firm.

He also was charged with two misdemeanors arising from allegations of official misconduct, lying to lawmakers about whether the county had some arrangement with Microsoft/Dell and directing Perino to come up with the fake requisition number.

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Thursday, Justin Myers, a Suffolk County spokesman, said Rodgers -- later on the day he allegedly directed Perino to give him the requisition number -- told the county attorney what he had done.

The county attorney advised him to remove the number from what Myers called the draft version of the letter of intent. He said the final letter, which went out the same day, did not include the fake number.

"That was a mistake, no one directed him to do it," Myers said of the fake number.

Although the fake requisition number was removed, a different code, a "quote number," appears in both the letter of intent and an invoice for $1.454 million that Dell billed the county for a few weeks later: MG032813RNWL7420212-R01.

The DA's investigation is continuing.

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