COUNTY PRESS RELEASE – Rockland County suspended Richard Brega and the Brega organizations, barring them from bidding on future contracts, and moved to end some current contracts before they expire, Rockland County Executive Ed Day announced last week.
Brega was arrested by the FBI in January for allegedly falsifying municipal bus contracts with BOCES in his favor, with the help of a district employee who is cooperating with authorities. Rockland is encouraging Brega to assign the remainder of its contract to operate and maintain the Transport of Rockland (TOR) and Tappan Zee Express (TZx) services to another company. The County has to right to approve any new operator before service starts.
If Brega cannot do so, the county will expedite the procurement process for a new TOR and TZx contract and put it out to bid with the intention of entering into a new contract before Brega’s $70 million contract expires in November, 2018.
“We are separating the county from Brega in an orderly way that maintains safe and reliable service to the nearly 10,000 Rockland residents who rely on this bus service each day,” the County Executive said.
Rockland has five contracts with Brega-related companies.
One of those contracts is with Brega Transport Corp. for the maintenance and operation of the TOR and TZx bus services. The Rockland Department of Public Transportation oversees that contract, which is partially funded by federal and state agencies.
The local suspension covers all contracts between the county and Brega, including the Department of Health’s pre-school and Early Intervention transportation contract, the Brega DOT Maintenance and Automotive Repair contracts and the Brega Commercial Collision contract.
Brega was informed Tuesday of the county’s action.
Rockland County officials took the step after they were informed Friday that the Federal Transit Administration had suspended Brega Transport and its related companies.
The federal agency noted that the FTA-imposed suspension would remain in effect while Richard Brega faces federal corruption charges related to contracts with Rockland BOCES.
“The charges against you raise serious questions about your present responsibility and make your immediate suspension and that of the companies you control necessary for the protection of the public interest,” according to the letter.
The FTA’s action could put federal funding for Rockland County’s bus services at risk. The full impact of the federal suspension remains unclear.
“The criminal indictment against Richard Brega impedes his companies’ ability to comply with the bus contracts and to provide all of the services that the county requires for its customers,” the County Executive said. “We believe it is in the best interest of the County and residents who use this service to find another operator.”
The FTA’s action has no immediate impact on the county’s ability to continue operating the TOR and TZx buses on their current schedules.
The action will delay start of the expanded TZx weekend bus service.
“The buses will keep running on the same schedules as we work toward an orderly transition to a new operator,” the County Executive said.
While the Rockland Department of Public Transportation already has in place a rigorous set of monitoring processes in the oversight of the TOR and TZx contract, following the recent indictment of Richard Brega, the County implemented even more oversight and auditing activities to ensure the safety and well-being of the nearly 10,0000 customers we serve each day, the County Executive said.
“Nearly 10,000 people in Rockland use this bus service every day,” the County Executive said. “We are not going to leave them without a way to get to work or school or any place else they need to go.”
“The county does not intend to terminate the current contract until a viable replacement contractor is identified by Brega Transport Corporation and approved by the County,” Day said. “Will continue to work cooperatively with Brega on a contract assignment that will provide continuity of service for riders and protect Brega’s current employees wherever possible.”
“We thank Brega for its cooperation during this transition,” Day said.
Vincent Marzella, Jr., Chief Operations Officer for Brega Transport Corp., has assured the county that the company and its employees are working diligently to make sure there are no service interruptions during the transition.