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Monday, April 30, 2012

Attorney-Prosecutors Playing Politics, Public Not Served, Again

Cutting cheaters a break
The New York Post  -  EDITORIAL  -  April 29, 2012

A company that cheated clients — and taxpayers — out of millions of dollars over the course of decades in one of the biggest construction rip-offs in city history got a huge break last week. For the second time.  Why? Because a federal prosecutor says that convicting Bovis Lend Lease of a crime would bar the firm from future government contracts, causing layoffs.  By not prosecuting the company, says Brooklyn US Attorney Loretta Lynch, “we’re able to keep 100 percent of the New Yorkers who were not involved with this employed.”  Now, we’re all for full employment.  But as an excuse for failing to hold a company fully responsible for rip-offs that it admits totaled some $19 million — or more?  Sorry. It doesn’t wash. True, two execs will plead guilty to fraud and conspiracy and face jail time.  But the firm itself — and likely numerous others working for it — got off easy. Joseph Graffagnino is the father of one of the two firefighters killed in the 2007 blaze at the Deutsche Bank building, whose demolition Bovis was overseeing. He rightly asked: “Isn’t that [a prosecutor’s] job, to put bad guys out of work by arresting them?”  Bovis has worked on some of New York’s biggest public building projects — Citi Field, the Time Warner Center, Grand Central’s renovation — as well as the scandal-scarred Deutsche Bank takedown.  The company admitted bilking its clients through a fraudulent overtime scheme in which foremen were allowed to add unworked hours to time sheets.  It also admitted to having fraudulently obtained contracts by promising to subcontract to minority-owned firms — but then having its own (non-minority) employees perform the work.  Lynch’s probe only covers the years 1999 to 2009, but she said the practice has likely gone on for decades, calling it “part of the culture at Bovis.” And it’s not limited to Bovis, either; the probe is ongoing.  Under the deal, the company agreed to pay $56 million in restitution. In return for reforms, further prosecution is deferred.  But this is the second time Bovis got a major, undeserved break in recent years: The Manhattan DA’s Office also declined to prosecute after the Deutsche Bank fire, in return for fire-safety reforms (and a report today says an oversight bars future prosecution).  Not to minimize the size of the fines in the recent deal — a record construction-fraud settlement, according to Lynch — but this sounds awfully like a local construction-company version of “too big to fail.”  Prosecutors don’t want to put Bovis’ commercial prospects at risk by holding it accountable for its “culture” of corruption.  “Again, they’re getting away with it,” Graffagnino says. “It’s always ‘let’s make a deal’ with these people.”  He’s right — and there’s no excuse.


Anonymous said...

Get rid of prosecutors who think like this. Disgraceful!

Anonymous said...

Eric Holder's a crook offering an excuse only the NY Times can buy. If that company doesn't get the job another will and will hire the same number of people.

Anonymous said...

By this logic, they shouldn't go after any organization. Certainly Lehman was much bigger, and what about all those telecoms? How about the mob? What about Bernie Madoff? They all employ many more, but they got so big and powerful by breaking laws.

If it isn't obvious now that justice is bought, I don't know when it will be.

Anonymous said...

At this point the city has no money for things like building a new school. Upgrading bridges and roads and other public works projects How many more projects can be done with that money. How much day care can the city provide?
They allow the few to go free while the many have to suffer with overcrowded classes and decaying schools and bridges. They should put a few of them behind barrs
Send the message that they will be held accountable for overcharging.

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