FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 14, 2001
TDD (202) 514-1888
WATER COMPANY ORDERED TO PAY $3 MILLION FINE FOR BRIBING
NEW ORLEANS WATER AUTHORITY MEMBER
WASHINGTON, D.C.– Aqua Alliance, Inc., a water treatment company, was sentenced by a Houston federal judge to pay three million dollars in fines and serve five years' probation for its role in a scheme to pay bribes to former New Orleans Water and Sewer Board member Katherine R. Maraldo, the Justice Department announced today.
Aqua Alliance, formerly known as Air &Water Technologies Inc (AWT), is the parent company of Houston-based Professional Services Group, Inc. (PSG), which contracted with local governments throughout the country to operate and manage municipal wastewater treatment facilities.
The sentence results from the company's guilty plea in June 2001, to one count of federal program bribery. In the plea agreement, Aqua Alliance admitted that corporate officials paid over $70,000 to Maraldo to pay her mortgage in connection with a speculative Louisiana real estate investment. Corporate officials also provided PSG's Louisiana attorney's services to assist Maraldo in her efforts to find investors in the property. At the same time, PSG was seeking Maraldo's assistance in obtaining a renewal of its New Orleans contract. During the period of the scheme, the New Orleans water board was seeking and obtaining a substantial federal grant to modernize its sewage delivery system.
Four individuals are awaiting trial in Houston on related charges. Michael M. Stump, formerly PSG's president, William K. Gottenstrater, formerly a PSG vice president, Salvador A. Anzelmo, a PSG lawyer in New Orleans, and Maraldo, were all indicted in May 2001 for conspiring to engage in racketeering activity, bribery and fraud. If convicted on all charges, each faces a maximum sentence of 50 years in prison.