Today’s news:

Eight boro school workers charged in contract scam

Eight custodians assigned to Queens schools were indicted on charges they rigged bids and received kickbacks as part of a scheme to secure window-cleaning contracts for a Bronx-based company, state and city officials announced Monday.

The eight employees, four of whom live in Queens, are accused of granting work contracts to Thomas Robinson, owner of Family Window Cleaning between 1996 and 2001, in exchange for a kickback ranging from 10 percent to 50 percent of the job price - from $1,000 to $4,000, a release from state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer said. The handful of Queens employees were part of a total of 18 custodians arrested, Spitzer said.

"Individuals entrusted to provide for the well-being of our children must be held to a higher standard," Spitzer said. "Today we are holding them accountable and sending a message that such illegal activity will not be tolerated."

Robinson, a Bronx-based business owner, was believed to have made about $250,000 from the contracts, and he was also arrested, Spitzer said. A 219-count indictment was filed against him in State Supreme Court in the Bronx, including charges of submitting phony bids, misconduct, falsifying business records and violating the Donnelly Act, which prohibits contracts in restraint of trade, the release said.

The custodians were charged with receiving bribes, misconduct, receiving reward for official misconduct and filing false documents, the release said.

The defendants were arraigned Monday in the Bronx, and if convicted they could face prison sentences ranging from four to 45 years, the release said.

The custodians were suspended from their jobs in the schools pending the criminal case, said city Department of Education spokesman Paul Rose.

"The safety and well-being of our school children is paramount," said Schools Chancellor Joel Klein. "We cannot allow individuals who put greed before their duties to continue to fail us and our schools."

The defendants include:

- Ronald Alexander, of 130-12 228th St. in Laurelton, assigned to Richmond Hill High School.

- Mayra Cintron, aka Mayra Zepherin, of 22 McIntosh Ct. in Elmhurst, posted at PS 141 in Long Island City.

- Michael A. Graffeo, of 87-80 120th St. in Richmond Hill, custodian at MS 216 in Fresh Meadows.

- Michael J. Graffeo, of Staten Island, assigned to PS 314, in Queens.

- Patrick Graffeo, of 12-23 Diane Place, in Bayside, custodian at Grover Cleveland High School in Ridgewood.

- John Romanelli, of Long Island, posted at PS 214 in Flushing.

- Anthony Vecchione, of Long Island, assigned to PS 195 in Rosedale.

- David Werbelow, of Long Island, posted at PS 88 in Ridgewood.

Reach reporter Courtney Dentch by e-mail at, or by phone at 1-718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

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