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Rockland BOCES Calls Ex-Official's Theft, Bribery Plea 'Disheartening'

Rockland BOCES officials say they are disheartened by the recent guilty plea of a former transportation employee accused of taking bribes.
Rockland BOCES officials say they are disheartened by the recent guilty plea of a former transportation employee accused of taking bribes. Photo Credit: Google Maps

CLARKSTOWN, N.Y. -- Rockland County BOCES officials are speaking out about the recent guilty plea from a former employee who admitted to taking bribes in exchange for falsely charging the school for work that was not completed on its school buses.

William Popkave, 61, of Nanuet, pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy, fraud, theft, bribery, and obstruction of justice for his part of the scam that allegedly involved local businessman Richard Brega.

"The admission of guilt by Mr. Popkave is disheartening and concerning, as he seriously breached the trust placed in him by the Rockland BOCES Board and administration," said BOCES CEO Mary Jean Marsico and District Superintendent Charlene Jordan.

According to Rockland County District Attorney Thomas Zugibe, Brega submitted false invoices for school bus maintenance that was never provided and then Popkave would knowingly approve the invoices for payment, even though the services were never provided. He is accused of accepting more than $47,000 of free personal vehicle repairs in exchange for approving the fraudulent invoices, the unsealed indictment said.

While working as the transportation director, BOCES officials said Popkave was responsible for managing all BOCES transportation services, in addition to overseeing fleet maintenance and bus driver testing and training programs. He officially retired in June 2016, officials said.

Rockland BOCES has cooperated fully with the investigation and will continue to do so.

"We're obviously dismayed and saddened by these circumstances, but cannot comment further on any matters which are part of the ongoing probe. We hold ourselves, and all of our employees, to the highest standards for professional public administrators," Marsico and Jordan added.

Popkave face up to 80 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

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