NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Three former New York City Department of Environmental Protection employees, and a contractor from Houston, have been charged in an alleged bribery scheme that authorities say went on for decades.
City Department of Investigation Commissioner Mark Peters announced Thursday that former DEP employees Dennis Jones, Bhaskar Sil, and Thomas Bentsen had been charged with receiving bribes, receiving a reward for official misconduct, and official misconduct for receiving unlawful gratuities.
Huston-based contractor Flo Trend Systems Inc. was also hit with felony bribery charges, and charges of giving unlawful gratuities, as a corporation. Flo Trend vice president Carl Russell Caughman of Houston was also charged with the same counts last week.
The DOI alleged that between 1998 and 2012, Flo Trend had about six contracts with the DEP for the maintenance, repair and supply of waste receptacles for water treatment. The contracts were valued at more than $14 million, the DOI said.
Caughman and Flo Trend allegedly gave gifts to Jones, Sil and Bentsen – all of whom held positions with authority over Flo Trend and its conduct, the DOI said.
Jones, the DEP Transportation Section Chief, was in charge of drafting Flo Trend’s contract specifications and approving purchase orders, the DOI said. He allegedly told Flo Trend to submit fraudulent purchase orders to cover the expense of certain items that were really bribery-related gifts, such as cellphones and cellphone service plans, the DOI said.
When Flo Trend refused to provide the perks that Jones asked, he slowed the work called for on the contract and prevented billing on it, the DOI alleged. Flo Trend also allegedly provided Jones with other perks such as Yankees tickets, junkets in Las Vegas, gas cards, and fishing trips in Montauk, the DOI alleged.
Sil served as the DEP project manager who was in charge of evaluating the Flo Trend’s performance with respect to its contract, the DOI said.
He allegedly got cellphones, a service plan and a laptop computer from Flo Trend, the DOI said. The DOI claimed he threatened to delay processing and submitting Flo Trend invoices if he did not get the perks.
Bentsen was a DEP Transportation Section Chief who supervised Jones and Sil, the DOI said. Flo Trend allegedly paid for cellphones and fishing trips for Bentsen, the DOI alleged.
The DOI also alleged that Bentsen knew his subordinates had demanded perks from Flo Trend in exchange for renewing and extending the contract.
Jones, 48, of Long Island City, Queens , was making $104,570 at the department. Bentsen, 51, of Oceanside, Long Island was making $63,390, and Sil, 69, of Daytona, Florida was making $66,950, the DOI said.
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