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By JAMIE SCHRAM, JEANE MacINTOSH and LUKAS I. ALPERT news02032006005.jpgKornretz leaves court yesterday.

empty.gif February 3, 2006 -- S.I. COPS BUST BIZARRO LORD OF THE BULLIES

A Staten Island school-bus driver treated his passengers like prisoners in a penal camp, deputizing pre-teen enforcers to rough up rowdy students on board and dubbing himself "The Emperor," police charged yesterday.

Farrel Kornretz, 38, of Parlin, N.J., named his ride the "Death Cheese Bus" and assigned ranks to his sixth-grade charges, forcing them every day to recite a set of rules posted by his cup-holder, according to the criminal complaint.

Kornetz pleaded not guilty to two counts of endangering the welfare of children for allegedly allowing his toughs to push lower-ranking kids around, put them in headlocks and — in at least one instance — slice up a kid's jacket with scissors as punishment for horseplay.

The 12-tiered ranking system ran from "Lord (apprentice of the Emperor)" to "Sped," a derogatory term for someone in special-education classes. Other ranks included the Star Wars-themed titles "Darth," "Sith Warrior" and "Jaba."

"As hereby proclaimed by Emperor Mike of the Death Cheese Bus, unit five, sector seven of the gamma system, these laws are laid down upon us to hold order and restore power," the bizarro list of rules stated. "The penalty for breaking this code is banishment. And for a ranking of master or above, the penalty is death or severe beating."

The list specified that the emperor was the supreme leader, accountable to no one, that all lords must obey "Lord Matt," the Darths must obey all lords, and the masters follow the commandments of the Darths.

The wacko treatise closed with the ominous proclamation: "Mercy will not be tolerated."

Investigators said the reign of the "Death Cheese Bus" began last Nov. 1, when two 11-year-old students at IS 34 in Tottenville told their parents about the on-board shenanigans. The parents reported it to police.

Detectives arrested Kornretz at the 123rd Precinct on Wednesday. He was released yesterday on $500 bail.

"The safety of these students should not have been subject to some twisted game, at the alleged whim of this driver," said Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan.

Kornetz declined to comment after his arraignment, but his family leaped to his defense.

"My son is just a big, law-abiding, working slob," his mother said. "Whatever happened, it's either a mistake or an irate father trying to make trouble."

Kornetz, who has been a certified bus driver for 15 years, had no prior complaints against him and was suspended without pay, the Department of Education said. "If these charges are true, we will never let him near our children again," said DOE counsel Michael Best.

Other drivers at Kornretz's bus company, Pioneer Transportation, said allowing students to act as a goon squad was in clear violation of the rules.

"If a guy would do that, that would be like a prison guard allowing a prisoner to be an enforcer," said one.

Parents at the school, on the South Shore of Staten Island, were appalled to hear of the state of martial law on the bus.

"When children go to school, we expect them to be safe, and they were in an unsafe situation. It was courageous of those kids to speak up," said one mother.

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