Federal Safety and Health Officer Admits Conspiring with His Brother to Extort Contractors
NEWARK, N.J. – An Essex County, New Jersey, man today admitted conspiring with his brother to extort multiple general contractors of approximately $14,000 in cash, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced.
Alvaro Idrovo, 46, of Bloomfield, New Jersey, pleaded guilty by videoconference before U.S. District Judge Katharine S. Hayden to an information charging him with one count of conspiring to defraud the United States and to commit an offense against the United States, specifically, an act of extortion under color of his office or employment with the U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Idrovo was charged by complaint in September 2020 with his brother, Paul Idrovo, with one count of conspiring to commit an offense against the United States based on the extortion of a single contractor. Paul Idrovo previously pleaded guilty to an information charging the same offense and was sentenced to three years of probation and ordered to pay $15,600 in restitution.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Alvaro Idrovo was a compliance safety and health officer for OSHA. He misrepresented to contractors at construction sites in New Jersey that they were facing significant OSHA fines, penalties and possibly jail if they did not get the alleged necessary OSHA safety training. Alvaro Idrovo would provide the contractors with the phone number for the required trainer – allegedly named “Jose Diaz” or “Paul Mejia” – which phone number belonged to Paul Idrovo, posing under these names to conceal the brothers’ relationship. Paul Idrovo was an authorized trainer for certain OSHA Outreach Training Programs, but was not an employee of OSHA.
The two men charged the contractors $4,000 to $6,000 each, in cash, for the alleged safety training. At the time that Paul Idrovo collected the cash, he provided the contractors with fraudulent computer-generated safety and health certificates for their individual employees, which falsely stated that the employees had received various types of OSHA certified safety training from “Jose Diaz” and “Paul Mejia,” when no training had been provided. Paul Idrovo shared with Alvaro Idrovo approximately $5,000 of the cash collected as part of the extortion conspiracy.
When OSHA officials learned of the attempt to extort one of the contractors, they referred the matter to federal law enforcement, who arranged for that contractor to make consensual recordings with both Idrovo brothers. During an April 2020 meeting surveilled by law enforcement, the contractor paid Paul Idrovo $6,000 in cash in exchange for ladder and safety awareness training certificates and a safety and health plan, filled in from a template. Alvaro Idrovo attached copies of the training certificates and the plan to his OSHA reports regarding the contractor’s violation despite knowing that the training certificates falsely claimed that training had been provided to the noted individuals on the specified dates in March 2020, that “Jose Diaz” had provided training, and that the alleged training was OSHA certified.
The conspiracy charge against Alvaro Idrovo carries a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 16, 2023.
U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents of the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jonathan Mellone in New York, and special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James E. Dennehy in Newark, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.
The government is represented by Senior Trial Counsel Leslie Faye Schwartz of the Special Prosecutions Division.