owner of middlesex county, n.J., construction company indicted for paying $350,000 in cash bribes and kickbacks
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 4, 2012
Payoffs Connected to Millions of Dollars in Public and Private Construction Contracts
TRENTON, N.J. – A Monmouth County, N.J., man was indicted today on charges he paid $350,000 in cash bribes and kickbacks to a N.J. Department of Transportation official and a private port terminal operator in connection with millions of dollars in construction contracts, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
George Chrysanthopoulos, 49, of Little Silver, N.J., the vice-president and an owner of Tarheel Enterprises Inc. of Morgan, N.J., is charged in a seven-count Indictment with one count of conspiracy to commit honest services mail fraud, one count of mail fraud, one count of wire fraud, three counts of using the mail and facilities in interstate commerce to facilitate bribery, and one count of federal funds bribery.
According to the Indictment:
Between 2002 and 2008, Chrysanthopoulos agreed with an employee of a private terminal operator at Port Elizabeth, N.J., that Chrysanthopoulos would pay cash bribes and kickbacks to the employee in exchange for the employee’s influence in assisting Tarheel in obtaining millions of dollars of construction contracts from the terminal operator. In 2002, Chrysanthopoulos and the employee agreed that Chrysanthopoulos would pay the employee $20,000 in cash for every $5 million that Tarheel earned from the terminal operator. Chrysanthopoulos paid approximately $300,000 in cash bribes and kickbacks to the employee during that period.
The employee began cooperating with law enforcement and recorded a series of meetings with Chrysanthopoulos between February 2011 and April 2011. During a recorded meeting on Feb.14, 2011, Chrysanthopoulos and the employee discussed rigging the bid process for a $3 million construction contract at the terminal operator in Tarheel’s favor in exchange for $10,000 to $20,000 in bribes and kickbacks to the employee. Chrysanthopoulos and the employee also discussed steering $150 million in additional construction projects at the terminal operator’s facilities to Tarheel. Chrysanthopoulos was informed by the employee that in exchange for the employee’s assistance in getting Tarheel the additional projects, “we could do the same thing like we did last time, George . . . like for every $5 million, I get 20 grand, boom, . . . I’ll be happy, man.” Chrysanthopoulos responded, “Right . . . yeah.” Chrysanthopoulos later told the employee, “I know what the parameters are . . . 20 per 5.” At that same meeting, Chrysanthopoulos also told the employee not to invite certain other contractors to bid on the 2011 project, and that he would give the Employee the names of contractors that should be invited to bid.
Chrysanthopoulos gave the Employee the names of additional contractors to invite to bid for the 2011 project and told the Employee that those contractors would be submitting bids higher than Tarheel’s. Chrysanthopoulos also told the Employee that he wanted to give the Employee a $50,000 bribe and kickback for the Employee’s assistance in getting Tarheel the 2011 project, that he had included that amount in Tarheel’s bid, and that Chrysanthopoulos would pay a portion of the bribe and kickback upon the contract being awarded to Tarheel. Later, Chrsyanthopoulos complained to the Employee that, of the contractors that Chrysanthopoulos had sought to submit bids for the 2011 project, only one (Contractor No. 2) had agreed to do so. When only Tarheel and Contractor No. 2 submitted bids for the 2011 project, the Terminal Operator solicited additional bids.
From 2006 to 2008, Chrysanthopoulos paid approximately $48,000 in cash bribes to a N.J. Department of Transportation (the NJDOT) engineer (the Engineer), in exchange for the Engineer’s official influence and assistance in connection with a $44 million contract that the NJDOT awarded Tarheel in 2005 to provide road construction services on Routes 1 and 9 in Bergen and Hudson counties. The engineer served as NJDOT’s resident engineer on the 1&9 Project and the engineer’s responsibilities on the 1&9 project included oversight of work performed by private contractors for the NJDOT.
The mail fraud conspiracy, and mail and wire fraud charges in Counts One, Three, and Four are each punishable by a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. The charges of using the mail and facilities in interstate commerce contained in Counts Two, Five, and Six each carry a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison. Count Seven, which charges federal funds bribery, carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. Each count carries a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. The Indictment also seeks forfeiture of up to $17 million in proceeds related to the criminal conduct charged in Counts One and Two.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI’s Trenton Resident Agency, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Ward, for the investigation leading to today’s Indictment. He also thanked special agents of the U.S. Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General, N.Y. Regional Office, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Douglas Shoemaker, for their assistance in the investigation.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Harvey Bartle of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Special Prosecutions Division in Trenton.
The charges and allegations in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Defense counsel: Michael Critchley and John Vazquez Esqs., Roseland, N.J.