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Westchester School Board President Evasive In Probe Of Insensitive Post, Investigators Say

The Port Chester School Board President remains in hot water.
The Port Chester School Board President remains in hot water. Photo Credit: Daily Voice photo

The investigation into racially insensitive posts purportedly made by a Board of Education president in Westchester left investigators with more questions than answers after he and his representatives were allegedly intentionally evasive during questioning.

In September, Port Chester Board of Education President Thomas Corbia found himself in hot water after a racially-charged social media post was made through his Facebook account, which he later alleged was hacked.

Investigators said that the first post from Corbia’s account stated: “Illegal immigrants sent $56 billion in pure cash to their home countries last year alone. That’s after their kids enjoyed free education, free lunches, and free medical care paid for by you.”

The second message attributed from Corbia added: “I’m selling my white privilege card. It’s just over 77 years old and it hasn’t done a damn thing for me.

“No inheritance, no free college, no free food, no free housing, etc. I may even be willing to do an even trade for a race card. Those seem way more useful and more widely accepted. Interested? Contact me on my non-obama (sic) cell phone that I have to pay for every month. Serious inquiries only.”

Corbia issued a short statement after the posts were unearthed, claiming that he was advised of the incident by two people and that his account had been hacked.

“I want the public to know that it wasn’t originated by me and it wasn’t forwarded or commented on by me,” he said. “I have been hacked no less than three times since the summer began. One of them was corrected immediately.

“Thought we had it done then it was hacked into the Internet and then hacked again sometime in late August or early September.”

Following the discovery of the posts, an extensive investigation was launched by an outside agency, which found that Corbia was evasive in answering questions.

According to investigators, attorneys for Corbia were unresponsive for nearly a month as his representatives dodged phone calls and email inquires, delaying questioning while they sought to secure Corbia’s cellphone, laptop, and other devices.

On Friday, Oct. 16, an attorney for the Board of Education emailed Corbia’s attorneys, imploring them to respond to their inquiries, saying that he was “deeply troubled by what (he) believes to be intentional efforts to simply delay this investigation.

“Moreover, I deem your lack of any meaningful response to our ongoing efforts to merely secure dates from you to be a concerted attempt on your part to impede the district’s ability to properly investigate this manner.”

It is alleged that during a phone call between the attorneys for the Board of Education and Corbia's representatives, the latter stated that he was attempting to slow down the investigation, and that “I don’t (care) if ‘they’ want to move the investigation forward (quickly), this will move on my timeline, not theirs.”

Corbia proceeded to fire his original counsel in late October, and was unwilling to submit his devices to be investigated.

Investigators eventually met with Corbia on Wednesday, Nov. 4 for approximately an hour and 15 minutes, at the conclusion of which, they requested access to his phone, an action that was vehemently denied.

“Over my dead body will I share this phone with anyone,” Corbia said, according to the report. “I don’t even share this phone with my wife.”

According to investigators, they were unable to conclude whether Corbia was responsible for the posts, or if he had been hacked.

“Many of Mr. Corbia’s responses during the interview were confusing and inconsistent with both his public comments and statements during the interview,” they noted. “His responses seemed rather dubious based upon the circumstances he described to us.

“The responses also lacked the type of detail that would permit us to reach the necessary conclusions with respect to the two issues we were charged with the Board to address,” they added. “We can state with confidence that our overall impression was that Mr. Corbia’s responses were lacking in credibility. Furthermore, some of his responses seem deliberately evasive.”

Investigators made note that Corbia also offered several “no comment” responses to multiple questions regarding the posts.

“It is extremely disappointing that Mr. Corbia has failed to appropriately respond to our consistent and concerted efforts to fulfill our responsibilities to the Board and the broader community,” they wrote. “We firmly believe that had we received the type of cooperation one would expect from an individual accused of this type of behavior we would have been in a position to shed some light on this troubling series of incidents.

“The only finding we are in position to render is that Mr. Corbia has failed to cooperate with this investigation in any meaningful way.”

After being resistant to questioning from investigators, Port Chester Board of Education Vice President Chrissie Onofrio said during a meeting this week that Corbia could face charges.

"The board will consider its second step, which is to engage special counsel to assist the board in determining what charges may be preferred by the board related to Mr. Corbia's conduct." 

A final report from investigators is expected to be released in the next few days. Check Daily Voice for new information. The complete report can be found here.

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