Queens Man Sentenced In Manhattan Federal Court To Two Years In Prison For Role In Scheme To Issue Fraudulent Safety Training Certifications To Construction Workers And Companies
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that MICHAEL DINARDO was sentenced today in Manhattan federal court, before U.S. District Judge Naomi R. Buchwald, to two years in prison for his role in a scheme to issue fraudulent safety training certifications. DINARDO pled guilty in May 2011 to conspiring to defraud the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”). He was released on bail following his plea, but in December 2011, DINARDO absconded. Judge Buchwald then issued a bench warrant for his arrest. On May 30, 2012, he was located and arrested, and is now in custody.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Not only did Michael Dinardo put workers and the public at risk by selling OSHA-mandated training certificates to people who had not completed the requisite training, but he also jeopardized public safety. He then tried to avoid accountability for his illegal conduct by running away, but he will now face justice. ”
According to the Complaint previously filed in the case, the Information to which DINARDO pled, statements made in other court documents and proceedings, and other public records:
OSHA regulates and supervises the Outreach Training Program, which provides occupational safety training to the construction industry and other industries. New York State and New York City local law require construction workers to complete outreach training before working on public construction projects and other major building projects. OSHA also regulates and supervises training in Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (“HAZWOPER”), a training program of up to 40 hours in length that is mandated by federal regulation for certain workers who work with, or are exposed to, hazardous substances. OSHA outsources outreach and HAZWOPER training to private trainers who possess OSHA-mandated qualifications and training, and issues official training certification cards as proof of successful completion of Outreach Program training.
DINARDO is a former New York City Department of Buildings (“DOB”) employee who was authorized by OSHA to administer Outreach Training, but not HAZWOPER training. In 2010, undercover officers (“UCs”) with the New York City Department of Investigation (“DOI”), working with the United States Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General (“DOL-OIG”), approached DINARDO after learning that he had offered to sell a confidential informant an outreach training certification card without the informant completing the required training. After the UCs represented that they were employed in the construction industry, DINARDO met with them on multiple occasions, during which he sold them 45 outreach training certification cards and two HAZWOPER training certificates without requiring anyone to complete training. On one occasion, DINARDO provided a UC with a price list for training certifications.
During a search of DINARDO’s home and business, DOI and DOL-OIG investigators uncovered proof of payment and contact information related to multiple construction companies operating in New York City, including companies working on major buildings and public construction sites in New York State and New York City. During his guilty plea, DINARDO admitted that, in exchange for tens of thousands of dollars in illegal payments, he provided construction companies and workers with outreach training certification cards that he had fraudulently obtained from OSHA, and HAZWOPER training certifications that he was not authorized to issue, without requiring anyone to attend the required training.
Following DINARDO’s arrest in 2010, OSHA made several changes to improve the integrity of the Outreach Training Program and to combat fraud. Among other things, OSHA made a number of modifications to the outreach training certification cards that make them more difficult to forge and resell. In addition, OSHA now requires trainers to submit to more frequent audits of their classes and their files to help ensure that the required, pre-certification training is actually being delivered.
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In addition to the prison term, Judge Buchwald sentenced DINARDO, 54, of the Queens, New York, to three years of supervised release with drug treatment.
Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding investigative efforts of the New York City Department of Investigation and the United States Department of Labor, Office of the Inspector General. He also thanked OSHA for its assistance in the investigation of the case.
This case is being handled by the Office’s Public Corruption Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Howard S. Master and Kan Min Nawaday are in charge of the prosecution.