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NY. $170k/year School Janitor uses additional school funds to renovate his 10 houses

November 7, 2010

When school janitors are paid $170k/year – is it no wonder NYS is broke.

School investigators are probing a veteran school custodian who owns 10 houses in Queens worth a combined $5.8 million — and whose former employees contend they were paid with school funds to gut and renovate the homes.

Several workers also accuse Roosevelt HS campus custodian Trifon Radef — paid more than $170,000 annually as a Janitor– of splitting school funds with pals for whom he created no-show gigs.

They said he overhauled his bevy of Floral Park homes using “free” labor on weekends and with supplies intended for the school.

“He renovated all these houses — walls, ceilings, new bathrooms and kitchens — and all the people who did the work are getting paid by the school,” said a former worker. “We got a check every two weeks with the name of the school.”

Asked about the probe this week, Radef claimed ignorance.

“Never heard anything about it,” said Radef, whose take-home pay in 2009 topped $226,000 because of a contract agreement that granted custodians a bonanza in back pay.

But four current and former cleaners and handymen said the home renovations took place on weekends from as early as 2000 through 2009 and included electrical, plumbing and roof work, cabinet-making, painting and plastering.

They said the pay was at overtime levels — as much as $30 per hour — for up to 20 hours of work per weekend.

The men, some of whom have been laid off in recent budget cuts, said Radef also pays a worker at Truman HS in The Bronx to keep the Queens properties neatly landscaped.

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