Excavation Company Employee Convicted of Paying Kickbacks to Suburban Chicago Highway Commissioner
CHICAGO — A federal jury has convicted an excavation company employee of paying kickbacks to a suburban Chicago highway commissioner in exchange for approving hundreds of thousands of dollars in fraudulent invoices for purported road work.
MARIO GIANNINI worked at Bulldog Earth Movers Inc., an excavation company in Bloomingdale, Ill. From 2012 to 2020, Giannini paid more than $280,000 in kickbacks to ROBERT CZERNEK, Commissioner of the Bloomingdale Township Road District, in exchange for Czernek using his official position to approve payment of stone delivery, dump leveling, and storm sewer invoices submitted to the township by Bulldog. Czernek would leave handwritten notes for Giannini in predetermined places around the Bloomingdale Township Highway Department office and grounds identifying the information that Bulldog needed to include in the fraudulent invoices. Czernek later approved the invoices knowing that much of the work and services were never performed. The fraud scheme resulted in Bloomingdale Township issuing more than $800,000 in checks to Bulldog.
The jury in U.S. District Court in Chicago on Monday convicted Giannini, 60, of Bloomingdale, on all 14 wire fraud counts against him. Each count is punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison. U.S. District Judge Matthew F. Kennelly set sentencing for Sept. 7, 2022, at 1:30 p.m.
The conviction was announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and Emmerson Buie, Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Office of the FBI. Valuable assistance was provided by the IRS Criminal Investigation Division in Chicago, and the DuPage County State’s Attorney’s Office. The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Saurish Appleby-Bhattacharjee and Ashley A. Chung.
Czernek, of Bloomingdale, pleaded guilty earlier this year to one count of wire fraud and admitted accepting the kickbacks and approving the fraudulent invoices. Czernek agreed to forfeit several items that were criminally derived from the fraud scheme, including a 2014 Lexus RX350, a 1966 Buick Wildcat, and a 1981 Corvette. Czernek’s sentencing hearing has not yet been scheduled.
The court acquitted a third defendant, DEBRA FAZIO, of Bloomingdale, during trial.