Owner of commercial painting company sent to prison for paying bribes on public contracts
The owner of commercial painting company was sentenced to more than two years in prison today after previously pleading guilty to paying bribes to inspectors while painting bridges in Northeast Ohio for the Ohio Department of Transportation, said Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.
George Kafas, 41, of Seven Hills, Ohio, pleaded guilty to nine counts, including (1) conspiracy to commit bribery and make false states in connection with a highway project; (2-4) bribery; (5-6) attempted tax evasion and (7-9) filing false returns.
“This defendant cut corners and tried to get around safeguards that were put in place to protect taxpayers,” Dettelbach said. “Our office will continue to pursue public corruption cases in all its forms.”
Kafas owned and operated Skyway Industrial Painting and Contracting, which included maintaining accounting records and writing and distributing checks for the company.
Between December 2000 and January 2001, ODOT entered into a contract with AP O’Horo Company to perform bridge maintenance and reconstruction of two bridges in Ashtabula County. AP O’Horo Company subsequently subcontracted with Skyway to perform painting of the bridges, which included paint preparation and work. The value of the contract was $200,000, according to court documents.
Between January and June 2002, ODOT hired Skyway to perform bridge painting in Carroll County. The value of that contract was approximately $218,960, according to court documents.
All the bridge painting work required inspections for quality assurance. The Carroll County bridge painting inspections were to be conducted by ODOT employees, while the Ashtabula bridge inspections were to be conducted by employees of KTA Tator, who contracted with ODOT to perform such inspections, according to court documents.
Sometime in June or July 2002, Kafas and his brother John Kafas (who also worked for Skyway) agreed to make an improper payment of approximately $500 to an on-site bridge painting inspector employed by KTA Tator for the purpose of improperly influencing that inspector in the performance of his duties relative to that highway bridge painting project, according to court documents.
John Kafas made payment and George Kafas was aware the payment was being made. The payment was made with the intent to influence the bridge inspector and cause the inspector to falsify documents and inspection results presented to ODOT, according to court documents.
Sometime in June 2002, George Kafas and John Kafas agreed to offer on on-site bridge inspector employed by KTA Tator an improper payment of $1,200, according to court documents.
Sometime between May and September 2002, George Kafas and John Kafas agreed to make improper payments of an on-site bridge inspector employed by ODOT on the bridge project in Carroll County. The payments were made and resulted in the inspector being paid approximately $2,000 in cash. These payments were made with the intent to cause the inspector to falsify documents and inspection results presented to ODOT, and ultimately resulted in Skyway being improperly paid on that contract, according to court documents.
Kafas also falsely underreported his income and/or his companies’ receipts on five returns between 2000 and 2002, resulting in under reporting income or receipts by $280,456 over that period, according to court documents.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Arturo G. Hernandez following an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigations.