Sordid details on City Hall firing

Comptroller, chief auditor offer differing accounts of reasons for sudden dismissal Thursday


By Jim Heaney / Investigative Post

City Hall’s top fiscal watchdog was fired by Comptroller Mark Schroeder Thursday  under sordid  circumstances.

Darryl McPherson said his departure was based on professional disagreements with his boss. But Schroeder said he fired his chief auditor  shortly after he received a complaint about incidents involving inappropriate conduct by McPherson.

While Schroeder was initially reluctant to discuss details, he did confirm information obtained independently by Investigative Post that the allegations involved McPherson using his cellphone to take inappropriate photos of a female staff member without her knowledge  in the workplace on several occasions.

“I asked Darryl about the allegations, and he admitted to them.  So obviously, I terminated him immediately,” Schroeder said.

McPherson, in an interview with Investigative Post, insisted his dismissal had nothing to do with the allegations, which he termed “a big misunderstanding.”

“I think it was a mutual parting of the ways,” he said. “This came down to Mark and I were not on the wave length and it was best if we didn’t continue to work together.”

“The chief auditor and comptroller parted ways. That’s it,” he added. “I don’t want it to be misconstrued that it was something that it wasn’t.”

Schroeder tells a different story.

“The dismissal  had nothing to do with any professional disagreements or any other issue,” the comptroller said Thursday tonight. “I terminated him, and had him escorted out of the building immediately, because of the allegations that he admitted to. Period.”

McPherson acknowledged that Schroeder brought up the allegation when they met around noon, but he maintained it was not central to their discussion.

“There was an allegation made and a supervisor felt the need to report it, and understandably so,” he said.

Countered Schroeder: “The only topic of discussion at our impromptu meeting was the allegation.

“Have we had disagreements in the past over operations? Yes. But they had nothing to do with the decision I made today,” he said.

McPherson, who was making $86,685, has headed up numerous investigations as chief auditor, including the One Sunset scandal and payments for health insurance coverage extended to dead employees. In recent months, he was looking into allegation some Common Council members misused city funds allocated for use in their districts.

McPherson was convicted of driving while impaired 12 years ago and again in 2007. Then, in August 2010, he pleaded guilty to aggravated driving while intoxicated after being arrested that February in Lancaster with a blood alcohol content three times the legal limit. He was fined $1,500 and ordered to continue counseling.

Then Comptroller Andrew SanFilippo opted to keep McPherson on the job because he was seeking professional help, attending meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous and doing”an outstanding job as city auditor,” said Tony Farina, the comptroller’s spokesman at the time.

McPherson began his City Hall career as an assistant corporation counsel for ten years under Mayor Anthony Masiello. He served as chief legal counsel for the city’s financial control board for 2 1/2 years before being hired as chief auditor.