NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Federal officials announced the largest construction fraud settlement in New York City history Tuesday along with the guilty plea of one of its most prominent executives.
Bovis Lend Lease, which was involved in countless city construction projects including Grand Central Terminal, Citi Field and the Brooklyn Federal Courthouse, must pay back $56 million in restitution and fines and be monitored every six months, 1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa reported.
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That settlement comes after a three-year investigation in which FBI Assistant Director Janice Fedarcyk said Bovis, which also worked on the September 11th Memorial, “Habitually added one to two hours of unworked overtime per day on time sheets.”
“The overbilling scheme, in simple terms, was time-sheet fraud. On each project, Bovis billed the client for hours allegedly worked by the Labor Foreman and his crew from Mason Tenders’ Local 79,” Fedarcyk said.
Officials also said that time sheets were submitted for days the Foreman did not work at all, including sick days or vacation days which they said led to inflated price tags for the construction projects.
Court papers showed that the wrongdoing took place over a ten-year period from 1999 to 2009.
James Abadie, the former head of Bovis’ New York office also pleaded guilty to his role in the overbilling scheme, officials said. He pleaded guilty to one count of mail and wire fraud conspiracy and faces up to 20 years in prison.
U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said Bovis “Systematically defrauded city, state and federal government — indeed, all their clients by billing project for hours, days and weeks that were never actually worked.”
The investigation also revealed the company got around rules that required the use of minority-owned subcontractors in two public construction projects in the Bronx and New Jersey.
Fedarcyk said the company falsely claimed “work was being done by minority-owned businesses when it was not.”
“The message to the giants of the construction industry should be clear: Fraud and overreaching cannot be hidden by the sheer size of a project. Whether projects are publicly or privately funded, padding contracts and skirting the law are crimes. And we’re watching,” Fedarcyk added.
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