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Rye to hire lawyer in Rye Golf Club probe

The Rye Golf Club. (Dec. 20, 2012)

The Rye Golf Club. (Dec. 20, 2012) Photo Credit: Xavier Mascarenas

Rye is ramping up its investigation into possible financial wrongdoing at the city-owned golf club.

The City Council intends to hire private legal counsel to assist its probe into the dealings between Scott Yandrasevich, the longtime manager of the city-owned Rye Golf Club, and RM Staffing, a food service agency he hired in 2007.

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 with the agency. The city is probing more than $2.2 million of payments to the staffing company in the past two years, including city-paid overtime expenses since 2007.

City officials haven't said how much they will spend on outside legal services or whether they have selected a firm.

Members of the club's board of directors -- which was supposed to have oversight over the budget -- have told council members they were left in the dark about the club's finances, which were controlled exclusively by Yandrasevich.

"We don't even know how much the restaurant makes," said Board chairman John Duffy, who along with the other eight board members are pushing for more control over the club's operations. "We weren't allowed to see invoices."

A call for comment from Yandrasevich was not immediately returned.

The golf club, which includes 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 run upward of $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.

Club members also allege Yandrasevich took tips intended for staffers and used them to pay for club expenses.

"I had a waiter at the restaurant tell me 'please sir, could you pay me in cash' because if I put the tip on the club card he said they wouldn't give it to me," said Shankar Narayan, a member of the club for nearly 20 years. "If this is the way it is being run, I don't think the city should be in the restaurant business."

The council is set to meet at 8:30 a.m. Friday to discuss a lawyer.

Council members -- who are conducting an 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.

"This is very serious matter and we are working tirelessly to get to the bottom of it," Mayor Doug French. "If we find there has been any wrongdoing, we will be taking action."

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