Updated news on the Gambino, Genovese, Bonanno, Lucchese and Colombo Organized Crime Families of New York City.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Firm with WTC pact tackles fraud rap

A company that won a big contract to rebuild a major Ground Zero artery is negotiating with the feds to settle corruption allegations in a $19 million fraud scheme, the Daily News has learned.

Two key former executives of Perini Corp. are charged with paying crooked minority businesses - including one linked to the mob - to steer federal contracts to the company.

The Peekskill-based builder, an arm of Tutor Perini Corp., is not expected to be indicted, but has been negotiating for more than eight months to reach a civil settlement, documents show.

The company is eager to settle for fear of losing out on lucrative federal public works contracts.

Perini recently was awarded a $192 million Port Authority contract to rebuild Greenwich St. as the main public access to the 9/11 Memorial.

Last January, a federal grand jury indicted ex-Perini civil division President Zohrab Marashlian and the company's former purchasing chief, John Athanasiou, on fraud charges involving federal highway projects in Manhattan and Queens.

All the contracts required a percentage of the work to be subcontracted to "disadvantaged business enterprises."

Prosecutors say Marashlian and Athanasiou bribed three no-show minority firms - V.V.S.S. Co. of Flushing, Land-Site Contracting of Glendale and Fairview Contracting of Elmsford - to put Perini workers on their payroll and process bogus invoices.

The companies received 3% to 5% of the $19.3 million in subcontracts, authorities said.

V.V.S.S. owner Vijay Havaldar pleaded guilty in 2001 to similar contract scams involving Scalamandre Construction Co., a firm with ties to the Lucchese mob.

He has not been sentenced and is believed to be cooperating in several prosecutions, including the Perini case, sources said.

Marashlian and Athanasiou no longer work for Perini. They worked for the firm from 1998 to 2007 as the scheme unfolded. Each is free on $1 million bond. No trial date has been set.

In February, Perini Corp. said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that federal prosecutors had decided "not to bring any criminal charges against the company ... and that the matter would be best resolved by a purely civil settlement."

"Those people are gone ... and we have a new president of the highest integrity," Perini CEO Jack Frost said. "That's not to say the other guys did anything wrong. It is what it is and we've moved on."



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