Leader at port plans to ship out

Frank W. Keane's resignation comes on heels of arrests of two facility employees

Section: Business,  Page: C1

Date: Tuesday, June 3, 2008

ALBANY - The longtime general manager at the Port of Albany is resigning to take a new job, just as two veteran port employees face criminal charges for alleged theft of gasoline and other port property.

Albany Port District Commission Chairman Robert Cross said the two developments appear unrelated, but he said they combine to leave the small port staff suddenly without three employees who all had decades of experience in key roles with the operation. "We have had a loss of three key people at the port in one week," he said Monday. Nonetheless, he said, "I think we'll be fine. We have some very talented people."

Port security chief Richard Hendrick has been tapped as interim general manager until a permanent replacement is appointed for outgoing General Manager Frank W. Keane, 51, who has been with the port for nearly 25 years.

On Monday, Hendrick said the arrests of two employees by Albany police on Wednesday stemmed from an investigation initiated by the port security staff after another maintenance employee, Joseph Coffaro, was arrested early this spring for allegedly stealing copper.

Operations manager Mark Bruno, 48, and maintenance foreman Craig Prusky, 53, pleaded not guilty at arraignments Thursday morning in Albany City Court.

Bruno, who is accused of billing personal vehicle parts to the port, is charged with fourth-degree grand larceny and resigned from his port post after his arrest, according to Hendrick.

Prusky, who is accused of using port gasoline to fuel his Chevrolet Blazer, is charged with petty larceny. He was terminated from his job by port officials later last week, Hendrick said.

Port officials estimated that Bruno worked at the port for about 30 years and Prusky for about 20 years. The gasoline thefts, as least, appear to have been ongoing for "a lengthy period of time," Hendrick said.

"It was a shock to me," Cross said of the allegations against Bruno and Prusky. "With only 12 or 15 people on the staff, you get to know everyone."

Hendrick, a 52-year-old retired Albany police detective, has been with the port for four years.

"It appears to have been a case of poor judgment on their parts," Hendrick said of the alleged thefts by Bruno and Prusky.

Keane, a Colonie resident, submitted a resignation that takes effect on June 13 and began a two-week vacation period this week, according to Hendrick.

Cross said Keane first notified him in February or March that he was considering taking a position as executive director, the top staff job, for the Board of Commissioners of Pilots of the State of New York, a state agency. Keane has represented the Port of Albany on the board since 1989.

"We all tried to talk him out of it. We didn't want him to go," Cross said. "He's a tremendous loss for the port."

The board of pilot commissioners regulates and oversees training and licensing of pilots, who help vessels navigate the Hudson River and other waters in New York state. The commission office is in Manhattan.

Keane said he will keep his home in Colonie and rent an apartment in Yonkers for easier weekday travel into the city.

A graduate of SUNY Maritime Academy, Keane said it was time for a change after nearly 25 years with the port - including more than 20 as general manager. Previously, he served in the Merchant Marine and U.S. Naval Reserve.

Keane, whose annual salary was about $80,000 at the port, said his new salary will be "a little over" $150,000.

Cathy Woodruff can be reached at 454-5093 or by e-mail at cwoodruff@timesunion.com.