May 28, 1999
By Michael Valkys
Fred Andros, who resigned Wednesday as the Town of Poughkeepsie water superintendent, arrives at his Violet Avenue home in Hyde Park Thursday after pleading guilty earlier in federal court to one count of conspiracy. The woman’s identity is unknown.
A retired Town of Poughkeepsie official pleaded guilty to a corruption charge Thursday, a day after Dutchess County Republican Chairman William Paroli Sr. was arrested for allegedly running a vast shakedown operation over the past six years.
Fred Andros, 60, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy during a 9 a.m. appearance in federal court in White Plains, admitting to seeking and collecting illegal cash bribes for Paroli.
In addition to serving as county Republican chairman, Paroli is also the Republican Dutchess County elections commissioner and chairman of the Town of Poughkeepsie Republican organization. He is resigning from the GOP leadership posts but plans to remain elections commissioner.
Andros — who resigned Wednesday as the town water superintendent just hours after Paroli’s arrest — faces a maximum of five years in prison and fines of up to $250,000 when he is sentenced Aug. 26, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Cathy Seibel.
Andros would not speak with a reporter who stopped at his Hyde Park home after the court session.
His attorney, Anthony Servino, did not return calls.
But during the court proceeding, Andros outlined a laundry list of illegal acts committed by town officials who were aware that they were using their posts to intimidate contractors, shake down businesses and misuse public funds.
‘‘I agreed with other town officials and with the chairman of the local Republican Party, William Paroli Sr., to do a variety of illegal things,’’ Andros said in court. ‘‘One of the things we did was approach contractors working in the Town of Poughkeepsie and use our official power to extort bribes from those contractors.’’
Paroli: ‘Truth will prevail’
Paroli — free without bail — declined to comment Thursday on the specifics mentioned in court.
‘‘I wish I could say something,’’ said Paroli, adding his attorney has advised him to remain silent. ‘‘I’ll speak out down the road... I think the truth will prevail here.’’
Andros’ plea brings to three the number of former town officials who have been convicted in the scandal. Another has been implicated in the two-year joint investigation conducted by the FBI and the state Commission of Investigation.
Pair seen as leaders
With Andros’ plea and Paroli’s arrest, the pieces of a complex jigsaw puzzle of corruption are slowly falling into place.
According to court papers filed in Paroli’s case, a picture emerges of a political boss running roughshod over the law, using town employees to solicit bribes from contractors hoping to move forward with construction projects in town.
The key players were allegedly Paroli and former Town Assessor Basil ‘‘Bill’’ Raucci, described as Paroli’s ‘‘right hand man’’ by authorities. The pair would instruct other town officials, such as Andros, on how much money to demand from contractors, to get the cash, and then deliver it to Paroli.
Raucci committed suicide in October of 1997 after authorities threatened to reveal his role in the scandal.
Prominent businessman Herb Redl has also been charged with bribery for allegedly making a $1,000 payment last August to town Assessor David Stokes, who set up a meeting between the two men that was taped by the FBI.
Stokes has not been charged and is cooperating with authorities.
Andros is one department head referred to as a co-conspirator in the complaint against Paroli. It alleges numerous shakedowns for funds that eventually went to Paroli and the local Republican Party.
Authorities will not comment in detail on the investigation or other unnamed conspirators.
The probe is ongoing.
Andros in court admitted he was a bag man for Paroli, bringing in cash from contractors at town construction projects and delivering the money to Paroli at his elections commissioner’s office.
The complaint to which Andros admitted states that he committed the following acts during his tenure with the town:
Others convicted in the scandal include:
Paroli has not entered a plea in his case and the matter is due back in court June 23. He said Thursday he will resign his GOP chairmanships, but will stay on at his paid county elections commissioner job.
Redl, 68, of Pleasant Valley, is also free without bail. He has yet to be formally indicted and his next court date is set for Wednesday.