Former Director of Public Safety Tyrone Forte’s license plate. According to Jimmy E. Bahr, Forte’s gang name was “D’exeqtor.” PHOTO CREDIT: Jimmy E. Bahr
By Greis Torres
A former public safety officer who claimed he was fired in retaliation for reporting corruption, nepotism and cronyism throughout the college and the university had his federal lawsuit thrown out on Aug. 15.
Jimmy Bahr, a former peace officer at York College’s Department of Public Safety, filed a bizarre and rambling lawsuit without an attorney in June of 2015 claiming a wide range of wrongdoing at York and CUNY.
The charges range from the seemingly benign offense of improperly displaying parking placards (for which he was fired) to allegations that former Public Safety Director Tyrone Forte belonged to a motorcycle gang whose members had free run of the campus and were protected by Forte’s aunt, the former attorney for the college, according to Bahr.
Bahr said he first complained that there was corruption, discrimination, and a hostile work environment in the Public Safety department in 2009 to the Human Resources department and former college attorney Olga Carter-Dais to no avail.
According to Bahr, soon after he filed his complaints his locker was vandalized by co-workers who branded him, “a rat,” and the official retaliation against him began, including multiple suspensions, undesirable job assignments and denial of overtime.
“I was immediately retaliated by Tyrone Forte, who was acting director at that time until promoted by Olga Carter-Dais Esq.,” said Bahr in the complaint. “They intimidated witnesses and destroyed personnel records. They would come after anyone who has a complaint against them.”
Forte declined to comment on the lawsuit and Dais did not return a message seeking comment. Forte left York to work at Kingsborough Community College, but officials there said he is no longer employed at the college. Dais left York and began working at Baruch College in 2015.
Current college attorney Russell Platzek also declined to comment on Bahr’s allegations.
According to other peace officers who preferred to stay anonymous and a 2015 state audit of the department during that period, the public safety department was out of control.
“The department was so corrupt,” said one of the officers. “There was a lot of discrimination against Hispanics. The majority of the public safety department personnel was black so they gave preferences to black officers.”
Bahr and the officers added that Hispanic peace officers were given the worst hours to work, and they mostly had to work outside standing for long periods of time.
Bahr was suspended in August 2014 after he was arrested by the NYPD for an off-duty incident involving sexual assault and harassment charges which were eventually withdrawn by the Queens District Attorney’s office.
He was subsequently brought up on charges by the university for having an illegal parking placard, which Bahr and several public safety officers said were issued to them by Forte as a regular matter of course.
During the hearing into the matter Bahr claims his union, the local 237 Teamsters, denied him legal representation and the hearing officers favored York college officials.
On April 2, 2015, Bahr filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging he was, “Subjected to retaliation and discriminated against because of race, sex, color, religion, national origin and age.”
“I was considered a whistleblower and a rat by my co-workers,” said Bahr. “One of the reasons why they wanted me out is because I saw public safety officers destroying documents.”
According to Bahr, public safety officials would break into his locker, someone once put a picture of a person hanging in his locker and another time someone taped a Bible to the outside of his locker.
“They would tell me: ‘You better say your prayers,’” said Bahr.
When Bahr complained about these incidents, he was told there was no evidence to support his allegations.
“They had access to go to every office and they would erase the evidence on the cameras,” said Bahr.
An audit by the New York State Office of the State Comptroller in 2015 found multiple instances of wrongdoing in the department during the same period especially among higher ranking officers.
While regular officers had to punch in and out of work, higher-ranking officers simply filled out monthly time sheets and in 175 instance involving 870 hours of alleged work, the auditors found hand-written alterations on the timesheets that were questionable.
Based on video footage, the report also found a sergeant was getting paid for hours that he didn’t work. The report also found officers staying in one place during their whole shift and even one officer who took a five hour nap during his shift.
“I filed a lawsuit. I tried to fight them as much as I could, but I don’t have enough money to get a lawyer,” said Bahr. “They blacklisted me and I can’t get a good job.”
According to Bahr, Forte is a member of a local Queens motorcycle gang called “The Bratz”, and used to park his vehicle illegally on campus property with the license plate “DXQUTOR,” and public safety officers were told to keep quiet about it.
Bahr and other public safety officers claim that Forte’s father was a retired New York Police Department officer who was a friend of the previous director of public safety.
“Everyone is well connected,” said Bahr. “Public safety sent me a letter saying I could re-apply but they only hire family members and friends.”
Bahr said that after 18 years of employment with public safety he wound up homeless with his family, unemployed and has had to seek counseling.
“I’m planning to get training for other types of jobs,” said Bahr since he can’t go back to work for CUNY.