Thomas Galante, the former Queens Public Library President who allegedly spent taxpayer money on Maroon Five tickets and a smoking deck adjacent to his former office, is suing the library for more than $2 million, alleging that his former employer conspired against him.
"After giving 27 years of my life to the Queens library and raising millions of dollars to make it better, the political winds changed overnight and my name was dragged through the mud,” Galante said in a statement.
In early 2014, it came to light that while the Queens Library's main Jamaica branch stood in a state of perpetual disrepair, Galante, who banked a $390,000 annual salary, allegedly used taxpayer money to renovate his office—in addition to the smoking deck, two new executive conference rooms with leather sofas, and a new private bathroom and shower.
Galante was fired by the library's board of trustees last December. At the time, Comptroller Scott Stringer was already deep into an 18 month audit of the library's finances. The results were released in July, detailing the former president's $260,000 in shady credit card charges.
"Our audit... uncovered a sickening track record of waste, fraud and abuse,” Comptroller Stringer said in a statement at the time. "Tom Galante used the Queens Library as his personal piggybank."
According to the audit, 13 executive QBPL employees are given credit cards to pay for "actual and necessary expenses incurred in the performance of work-related duties of the Library.” But auditors found that between July 2007 and December 2013, not one of Galante's credit card expenditures got QBPL approval before it was paid off.
The audit documents $1,963 for four tickets to a Maroon 5 concert, plus two $99 Apple-TV devices and $100 in "speciality" ashtrays—plus $20 for expedited shipping. Galante also allegedly filled up his work car with $12,396 worth of gasoline for non-work-related trips.
The Post reports that Galante's suit defends a few of these charges, arguing that Comptroller Stringer made no effort to contact him for an explanation over the course of his audit.
For example, in defense of one $200 gas charge from November 2012, soon after Hurricane Sandy: "Galante incurred those charges filling both [his] Nissan as well as gas cans used by the library during its recovery efforts in the Rockaways."
The suit also alleges that library revenues leapt from $94.4 million to $128.1 million while Galante served as president.
Between 2011 and 2014, even as City funding for the Queens Public Library increased (from $107.6 million in 2008, to $111.2 million in 2013), weekly operating hours in the already decrepit branch libraries dropped by an average of four hours per week, and bonuses issued to managerial staff rose almost seven percent.
We have reached out to the library's attorney and will update with any additional information.