Side deal in bus contract leads to grand larceny

By Bill Heltzel

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A $2.8 million contract to provide bus services to the Yonkers schools was not enough for A Plus Transportation.

The Yonkers-based bus company also had a lucrative side deal from 2012 to 2014 to provide busing for after-school activities at Nepperhan Community Center.

The deal was lucrative because the bus route was phony.

A Plus owner William Ahern, 60, of Armonk, and Yonkers schools’ transportation supervisor Anna Sollozzo, 54, of Yonkers, had worked out a scheme.

Ahern would submit invoices for buses that were never dispatched. Sollozzo, who knew there was no such bus route, would approve the invoices for payment.

They stole about $313,825, James A. McCarty, Westchester acting district attorney, said in a press release.

Yonkers police discovered evidence of the crime when they were investigating Sollozzo on an unrelated matter, according to an affidavit by an assistant prosecutor.

Police found evidence that Ahern was making payments to Sollozzo’s personal bank account.

Police officers met with Ahern several times, and he gave varying accounts of the deal. He claimed, for example, that Sollozzo had approached him and threatened to take away his bus routes if he didn’t pay her. He said in one interview that he had not received any benefits from the scheme, the affidavit says.

He later retracted that story.

He also agreed to use a concealed surveillance camera to record a conversation with Sollozzo in February 2015 and three days later to make a recorded phone call to Sollozzo from the Yonkers police department.

Police also enlisted the help of another, unnamed bus vendor to make a recorded phone call to Sollozzo.

Ahern, according to the prosecution, secretly deposited $107,250 into Sollozzo’s personal bank account. Sollozzo neglected to remit $282,398 in state income taxes from 2011 to 2014.

Sollozzo pleaded guilty last December to grand larceny and criminal tax fraud. She was sentenced in June to state prison for two to six years and ordered to pay back $280,000 to the city of Yonkers and $28,708 to the state Department of Taxation and Finance.

Ahern pleaded guilty on Oct. 27 to grand larceny and rewarding official misconduct, in state Supreme Court in White Plains.

He will be sentenced on Feb. 16. He has already agreed to pay $179,203 in restitution, according to the prosecutor.

The Ahern case was prosecuted by assistant district attorneys Stephen Ronco and Brian Conway of the public integrity bureau.


About the author

Bill Heltzel
Bill Heltzel has covered criminal justice, courts, government and sports – as a beat reporter and investigative reporter – for daily newspapers in Florida, Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. He worked for Bloomberg LP in training and sales. He joined The Business Journal in 2016.

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