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VALLEY COTTAGE – The massive Brega Enterprises’ bus repair facility has been leased to a regional transportation repair company that does the same services as the Brega firm did before its founder went to prison for bribery and other federal charges.

The five-year lease to Respect Auto Group comes with an option for the company to renew for five years or buy the 45,840-square-foot complex on 16.9 acres — including 16,000 square feet of office space, according to Paul Adler, chief strategy officer for Rand Commercial.

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The Brega Bus complex on Corporate Court in Valley Cottage, July 12, 2019.  (Photo: Mark Vergari/The Journal News)

The facility fits the company’s needs, with its state-of-the-art body and repair shops and space for fleets of buses and motorized vehicles. Brega Enterprises provided the same services when Richard Brega’s companies repaired vehicles, ran the county bus system and bused BOCES students. The site also features a heated driveway to combat icy conditions.

The Respect Auto Group works with car dealerships and operates out of Westchester County, the Bronx and Connecticut, Adler said.

Adler said the details of the lease were private and the landlord has not given Rand Commercial permission to release terms and conditions.

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Rand Commercial had hoped to sell the property, with a price tag of $11.9 million, or lease the facility and acreage.

County Executive Ed Day’s administration had shown interest in buying the property for the county bus system, now operated under a $60.7 million, five-year contract with Transdev Services, which has a compound in western Ramapo.

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The Brega Bus complex on Corporate Court in Valley Cottage, July 12, 2019.  (Photo: Mark Vergari/The Journal News)

The administration had contacted Rand Commercial about seeking a property appraisal to meet guidelines set by the Federal Transit Administration and state Department of Transportation, according to an email from the county Purchasing Department director obtained by The Journal News/lohud.

The deal never went beyond the talking stages. The county now faces fiscal issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic that’s cut into revenues, raised expenses and led to cuts in state aid.

The complex went up for sale after Richard Brega’s downfall following a conviction for bribery and other charges in May 2018. He was sentenced in December 2018 to 50 months in prison.

He entered prison in February 2019 and is not scheduled for release until August 2022, according to the federal Bureau of Prisons website. His attorney, Kerry Lawrence, has been trying to get Brega early release from the prison camp in Canaan, Pennsylvania, under the coronavirus exceptions.

Federal inmates have been allowed to serve their sentences in home confinement since Attorney General William Barr issued an order on March 26. 

A federal jury in White Plains determined after a 13-day trial in April and May 2018 that Brega paid off a BOCES transportation official as part of a conspiracy that involved phony invoices and other paperwork to convince inspectors that maintenance and repairs were being done on the BOCES fleet.

The work was not done on buses that transported children, including those with developmental disabilities. Brega’s company also would routinely overcharge BOCES for labor and parts, prosecutors said.

Brega faced 10 to 12 ½ years from Judge Kenneth Karas, who sentenced Brega and ordered him to pay $206,515 in restitution and $80,229 in forfeiture. When Brega got indicted, federal transportation officials forced him to give up his financial interest in various companies, including one that operated the county bus system.

Brega also got sentenced to a concurrent year in the county jail on his plea to a felony count of first-degree falsifying business records related to bundling campaign contributions under other people’s names in 2013.

Steve Lieberman covers government, breaking news, courts, police, and investigations. Reach him at slieberm@lohud.com. Twitter: @lohudlegalRead more articles and bio. Our local coverage is only possible with support from our readers. Sign up today for a digital subscription. 

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