Brooklyn Family of Plumbers Bilks NYC MTA Out of $2 Million in Overcharges and Labor Fraud
Who is minding the store?
More Sleaze at the MTA - But Who Was Minding the Store?
Henry Stern, Q, NYCivic, September 23, 2004
Henry Stern, NYCivic, comments on the scam:
Start with Laura Italiano's lead in today's Post: "A family of crooked millionaire Brooklyn plumbers - notorious for their alleged mob ties and gaudy Jersey mansion - pleaded guilty yesterday to running a racket that bilked the MTA out of $2 million in overcharges and labor fraud." The article appeared on p5, and was illustrated with photos of the family and their truly palatial home:
$2M Pipe Scheme
Plumbers who drained MTA guilty
By Laura Italiano, NY POST, September 23, 2004
A family of crooked millionaire Brooklyn plumbers -- notorious for their alleged mob ties and gaudy Jersey mansion -- pleaded guilty yesterday to running a racket that bilked the MTA out of $2 million in overcharges and labor fraud.
The Figliolia family -- father, wife and son -- will serve sentences ranging from probation to just under three years.
They'll also pay $6 million in restitution by selling their business property at 420 Carroll St., said family lawyer Ronald Fischetti. But they will likely keep their multimilllion-dollar Holmdel mansion, complete with indoor pool with waterfall, outdoor swan pond, and indoor and outdoor pizza ovens.
Not punishment enough, said the man who began the investigation into the scheme, retired NYPD Chief of Department and former MTA security director Louis Anemone.
They bested the Manhattan DA's Office on this one," Anemone said of the Figliolias, calling the family "the lowest of the low."
"When you get a sense of the extent of the corruption they were involved in, and for years prior to this indictment, it's mind boggling that they got such an advantageous deal," he said.
Yesterday's guilty pleas, in Manhattan Supreme Court, sends to prison for at least 1 3/4 years the family patriarch, Alex Figliolia , 60 -- notorious for tooling around Brooklyn's Carroll Street in a chauffeured, custom-made, Mercedes stretch limo, license plate, "Mr. Fig."
The son, Alex Jr. -- against whom Manhattan prosecutors had the strongest case -- gets 2 3/4 years prison for racketeering, grand larceny and bribery and money laundering.
Prosecutors said Alex Jr., 31, a married Staten Islander, was the scheme's wheeler-dealer, taking crooked MTA officials to Flashdancers and other pricey hot spots in the course of doing "business."
Alex Sr.'s wife, Janet, 54 -- mistress of the $4 million Holmdel mansion and an $800,000 jewelry collection -- got five years' probation. Prosecutors say she ran the operation's bogus payroll, the company's major illicit money-maker.
The Figliolias pocketed more than a million dollars by paying its mostly immigrant labor force as little as $8 an hour, while charging the MTA the prevailing union wage for plumbers, anywhere from $65 to $135 an hour, prosecutors charged.
Three corrupt MTA officials -- former director of facility operations Howard Weissman, former facilities manager Ronald Allan and ex-building manager Gary Weissbard -- have already pleaded guilty to taking bribes from the Figliolias to look the other way as the family overcharged on materials and labor.
Just how much of a financial hit the Figliolias will take is unclear. At the least, they'll lose their license to do government contracts -- the bulk of their income.
Family pleads to MTA rip-off scheme
BY KAREN FREIFELD, Newsday, September 23, 2004
A reputedly mob-connected plumbing contractor, his wife and son pleaded guilty yesterday in a scheme to rip off millions of dollars from the MTA.
Alex Figliolia Sr., 60, president of the Alex Figliolia Plumbing Co. in Brooklyn, his son, Alex Figliolia Jr., 31, a vice president at the company, and the elder's wife, Janet Figliolia, 54, an office manager, overcharged the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for six maintenance and repair jobs between 1998 and 2002, prosecutors said. The company received $18.7 million for jobs that were estimated to be worth up to $10 million less.
The father and son pleaded guilty to enterprise corruption, bribery, grand larceny and money laundering in State Supreme Court in Manhattan yesterday. Janet Figliolia pleaded guilty to bribery.
The trio paid kickbacks to MTA employees, billed the agency $65 an hour for plumbers while actually using $8-an-hour laborers and overcharged for supplies.
Three MTA employees also have pleaded guilty in connection with the case.
As part of the Figliolias' plea deals, the son is expected to get 2 3/4 to 8 1/4 years in state prison, while his father will receive 1 3/4 to 5 1/4 years. Janet Figliolia is expected to get 5 years of probation. Sentencing was set for Jan. 5. The Figliolas were charged in a 116-count indictment. If convicted at trial, the enterprise corruption charge alone carried a sentence of 8 1/3 to 25 years in prison.
The Figliolias promised to make restitution of $6 million and forfeit $750,000 in jewelry. They also must file amended state and federal tax returns for 1999 through 2001.
Prosecutors say the Figliolias spent the money on a $3.8-million renovation of their home in Holmdel, N.J.
The plea deal means the Figliolias will not be prosecuted for allegedly submitting false payrolls to the city School Construction Authority from 1994 to 2002, and the son will not face charges for allegedly bribing a city water main inspector.
"The plea gives them the ability to get on with their lives and get back in business," said Joseph Tacopina, who defended the elder Figliolia.
Assistant District Attorney Daniel Castleman said the felony conviction means the Figliolias will be barred from any public contracts.
Prosecutors have said the elder Figliolia is a business associate of Alan Longo, a reputed captain in the Genovese crime family.
Family Admits Guilt in Scheme to Steal Millions from MTA
By Samuel Maull, NY SUN, September 23, 2004
The owner of a Brooklyn plumbing business and his wife and son pleaded guilty yesterday to charges related to schemes to drain millions of dollars from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
The defendants were Alex Figliolia Sr., 60, his wife, Janet Figliolia, 54, both of Holmdel, N.J., and their son, Alex Figliolia Jr., 31, of Staten Island. Their company, Alex Figliolia Contracting Corp., of Brooklyn, also pleaded guilty.
Figliolia Sr. and Jr. pleaded guilty to enterprise corruption, admitting that their criminal acts included bribing MTA officials and stealing and laundering MTA money.
State Supreme Court Justice Roger Hayes promised Figliolia Sr. a prison term of 1 3 /4 to 5 1 /4 years and Figliolia Jr. a term of 2 3 /4 to 8 1 /4 years. They would have faced up to 25 years in prison if convicted at trial.
Janet Figliolia pleaded guilty to second-degree bribery in exchange for a sentence of five years probation. She admitted paying bribes to an MTA official.
The plea deal also requires the Figliolias, who remained free on $1.5 million bail each pending January 5 sentencing, and their company to make joint restitution of $6 million. Prosecutors said the money will go to the MTA.
A 116-count indictment handed up in December alleged that the Figliolias, with the MTA employees' help, stole money from the public agency by inflating invoices, overcharging for labor and materials, and forging business records. The defendants' company charged $26 for a 49-cent connector tube and $250 for a $17.50 brass nipple, prosecutors said.
The schemes caused the MTA to pay Figliolia Contracting more than $18 million since 1994 for plumbing and renovation work at numerous MTA buildings, Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau said when he announced the defendants' arrests.
Mr. Morgenthau said at that time no one was sure how much the Figliolias stole but it appeared to be in the millions of dollars.
During their plea statements yesterday, Figliolia Sr. and Jr. admitted the overcharges and inflated invoices and acknowledged stealing more than $1 million.
Mr. Morgenthau said the MTA defendants were Howard Weissman, 54, of East Meadow, N.Y., a former director of facility operations who earned $124,000 a year; Ronald Allan, 54, of Beacon, N.Y., a former $77,000-a-year facilities manager; and Gary Weissbard, 54, of Manhattan, a $71,000-ayear building manager.
Weissman pleaded guilty to enterprise corruption, Allan pleaded guilty to second-degree bribe receiving, and Weissbard pleaded guilty to receiving a reward for official misconduct, Mr. Morgenthau's office said. None of them has been sentenced.
Weissman has not been promised a specific prison term, but part of his plea deal requires him to pay $100,000 restitution to the MTA. Allan will pay the MTA $20,000 and receive a sentence of one to three years in prison. Weissbard will pay restitution of $9,000 to the MTA and get five years probation.
© 2004 The New York Sun, One SL, LLC
N.J. clan admits railroading MTA
BY BARBARA ROSS, Daily News, September 23, 2004
The family that bribed together pleaded guilty together yesterday.
Alex Figliolia, 60, his wife and son all admitted bribing Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials to give them plumbing contracts - and to look the other way when they submitted grossly inflated bills.
Under their plea deal, Figliolia, his son Alex Jr., 30, and Janet Figliolia must pay back $6 million in cash and turn over $750,000 worth of jewelry kept in their palatial mansion in bucolic Holmdel, N.J.
Figliolia also faces 13/4 to 5-1/4 years in prison at his sentencing on Jan. 5, while his son faces 2-3/4 to 8-1/4 years. Janet Figliolia, 54, will get probation.
At yesterday's proceedings, the younger Figliolia pleaded guilty to enterprise corruption, admitting he routinely submitted bills for plumbers when he was using only laborers who earn much less. He said he also used a subsidiary of his father's plumbing empire to launder money from the scheme.
Alex Sr. also admitted paying bribes and submitting inflated bills in order to pour money into the construction of his elaborate home, which features indoor and outdoor pizza ovens. His wife pleaded guilty to bribing Howard Weissman, the MTA's former director of facility operations.
Weissman, who was accused of taking $550,000, pleaded guilty to enterprise corruption but has not been promised a specific sentence other than having to make $100,000 in restitution. He was among three MTA officials who have admitted taking bribes from the family.
Former facilities manager Ronald Allan pleaded guilty to accepting a bribe and will get one to three years in prison, plus $20,000 in restitution. Former building manager Gary Weissbard got five years' probation and must pay back $9,000.
Family Pleads Guilty to Stealing From MTA
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, September 22, 2004
NEW YORK (AP) -- The owner of a plumbing business, his wife and son pleaded guilty Wednesday to charges related to schemes to steal millions of dollars from the operator of the nation's largest public transportation system.
An indictment in December alleged the family, with the help of three employees of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, stole the public agency's money by inflating invoices, overcharging for labor and materials and forging business records.
For example, Alex Figliolia Contracting Corp. of Brooklyn charged $26 for a 49-cent connector tube and $250 for a $17.50 brass nipple, prosecutors said.
The schemes resulted in the MTA paying the company more than $18 million since 1994 for plumbing and renovation work at numerous MTA buildings, Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau has said. He said the defendants likely stole millions of dollars.
On Wednesday, Alex Figliolia Sr., 60, of Holmdel, N.J., and his son, Alex Figliolia Jr., 31, of Staten Island, admitted the overcharges and inflated invoices and acknowledged stealing more than $1 million. Both pleaded guilty to enterprise corruption.
In a plea deal, the elder man was promised a prison term of up to about five years, and his son, a term of up to about eight years. Janet Figliolia, 54, pleaded guilty to bribery in exchange for a sentence of five years probation. Their family company also pleaded guilty.
The plea deal requires the Figliolias, who remained free on $1.5 million bail each pending Jan. 5 sentencing, and their company to make restitution of $6 million. Prosecutors said the money will go to the MTA.
The three MTA defendants have all pleaded guilty; none has yet been sentenced.
MTA officials said the thefts were a small percentage of the agency's $7 billion annual budget and have sidestepped questions about what effect, if any, they had on fares.
District Attorney Morgenthau deserves credit for making the case and securing the guilty pleas. Three MTA officials were previously convicted of various offenses related to the bribery, and are awaiting sentencing. A potential plea deal for them is discussed in the last paragraph of the Sun-AP article.