City of Rye set to tee up more money to probe golf club
City of Rye officials are teeing up another $77,000 to investigate possible financial wrongdoing at its golf club.
As of the end of January, the city had racked up more than $255,431 in legal fees paid to a private law firm and forensic accountant assisting council members with their probe, according to city records.
The council had budgeted $300,000 for the investigation, but it wasn't enough to cover the bills. On Wednesday, the City Council is expected to vote to allocate an additional $77,000 to cover legal fees and other costs stemming from the probe.
In October, the city hired outside legal firms -- Brune & Richard LLP and Breen & Associates LLC -- to help it investigate possible wrongdoing by former manager Scott Yandrasevich at the city-run golf club and restaurant.
The investigation is focusing on more than $2.2 million in payments to the staffing company Yandrasevich hired several years ago. Club members also allege Yandrasevich took tips intended for staffers, used them to pay for club expenses and kept the club's board of trustees in the dark about finances.
Meanwhile, council members also are seeking to protect themselves and city employees who have given information to investigators. They are expected to discuss Wednesday night whether to allocate additional money to defend against legal challenges resulting from the probe, said Kristen Wilson, the city's corporation counsel.
"Right now, the city isn't obligated to pay attorney fees for staff who are asked to participate in the investigation," she said. "The City Council needs to decide if they want to do that."
Wilson said the council will turn over its findings to the Westchester County district attorney's office for possible prosecution, but she declined to speculate whether the investigation would result in criminal charges.
"We're going to hand over everything we have to whatever governmental agency may want it," Wilson said.
Yandrasevich, 48, of Rye, was placed on paid leave in October after he was accused by club members and city officials of misappropriating funds and having a conflict of interest. He resigned in January and was given until the end of February to vacate the clubhouse, where he has lived for the past decade. An interim manager has been hired by the city.
Yandrasevich, who was paid $100,000 a year plus benefits, couldn't be reached for comment Tuesday.
Council members -- who are conducting the in-house investigation -- have declined to comment on the findings of the probe, citing Civil Service laws that prohibit them from discussing ongoing investigations of city employees.
Wilson said it could take several more weeks before the City Council goes public with its findings. She said the council has been meeting almost weekly behind closed doors to discuss the investigation and review findings by the law firm.
Meanwhile, City Manager Scott Pickup said the city is trying to get ready for the golf club's reopening in March.
"We're rebuilding our staff, cleaning and renovating the restaurant's dining room and upgrading the kitchen," he said.
Pickup said the city has received two proposals to replace the former staffing company, RM Staffing. In 2012, an audit of the golf club's operations criticized the lack of a competitive bidding for selecting vendors and suppliers.
The club, which features an 18-hole golf course, pool and restaurant at Whitby Castle -- which was built as a private residence in 1852 -- has been owned by the city since 1965 and is run by a manager and board of directors.
Memberships to the club cost more than $4,500 a year for access to the golf course and amenities. Members do not have to be city residents. The city collects more than $400,000 a year in revenue from the club, including a portion of the restaurant's proceeds.