Few use the janitor's closet as their ticket to stardom. The thankless post is often the province of those looking to make an honest dollar, and pay the bills.
And then there are janitors like Trifon Radef and Nicanor "Nick" Fernandez, who, if the charges being brought against them are proven to be true, stole "hundreds of thousands of dollars" from the New York City school system. Making use of paysheets at the Bronx-based Roosevelt and Truman high schools, the duo are accused of pulling off a raw deal, as opposed to the New and Fair deals made famous by the presidents whose names are emblazoned on their schools.
As the Courthouse News Service reports, Radef and Fernandez are said to have rerouted staff, created positions for people who weren't working or simply siphoned funds. Their total take is alleged to have been in the six digits.
"In addition, using DOE [Department of Education] custodial payroll funds, Trifon Radef paid custodial employees for work they performed at Radef's personal properties, for which they used DOE materials and supplies," the complaint states.
This is not Radef's first appearance in the news. An 8-year-old New York Daily News report, which may now need to be appended with a major asterisk, listed Radef as the fourth highest paid janitor in the New York City school system. Working at Middle School 158 in Queens, Radef was earning an annual salary of $170,145. The 10 janitors then making over $160,000 were then making more than all city officials, other than schools Chancellor Joel Klein and his First Deputy Diana Lam. The high salaries were a result of a contract negotiated by the members of Local 891 that allowed the janitors to collect two salaries at once.
And even before this latest round of charges, Radef has been the subject of numerous city investigations. Just last year, he was accused of forcing city workers to renovate his homes, according to the Daily News.
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