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School Contractor Charged with Bribery

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

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The owner of a New York-based construction company faces seven years in prison for allegedly offering thousands of dollars in bribes to a public school official.

Abdulkader Kassem Elchoum, 55, of Staten Island, was indicted in Brooklyn Supreme Court Monday (Oct. 26) after he allegedly offered a New York City School Construction Authority project manager $3,500 in bribes to expedite payments on a $2.5 million construction contract, according to an announcement by Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson.

bribe
©iStock.com / mediaphones

Prosecutors allege that the school contractor tried to bribe a School Construction Authority official in order to get paid quicker.

Elchoum owns AMA Construction/NY Inc. The company does not have a website.

He faces six counts of third-degree bribery in the case. After pleading not guilty, Elchoum was released without bail, the DA’s office said.

His next court appearance is set for Dec. 12, according to prosecutors.

The Allegations

In April 2014, prosecutors said, Elchoum was awarded a $2.478 million construction contract to build a new corridor, upgrade fire alarms, and heating, ventilation and air conditioning work at a public school located in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

According to the indictment, the School Construction Authority generally pays its construction contractors in installments, depending on the nature and amount of work completed.

In early June 2015, prosecutors allege that Elchoum expected a payment of approximately $163,000.

New York
©iStock.com / vichie81

The New York City School Construction Authority manages design, construction and renovation projects at more than 1,200 public school buildings, half of which were constructed prior to 1949.

On June 3, he allegedly offered an authority project manager, who was assigned to monitor the job, a bribe of $2,000 to expedite the payment.

The manager had previously reported an improper proposal that had been investigated by the authority’s Inspector General.

Between June 8 and Aug. 10, Elchoum is accused of delivering roughly $3,500 in cash to the official. In return for the payoffs, it was understood that the manager would use his influence to expedite payments to AMA and limit the authority’s scrutiny of the contractor’s work, prosecutors said.

Scheme Thwarted

In commenting on the case, New York City Department of Investigation Commissioner Mark G. Peters, said the charged criminal conduct was “corruption at its most fundamental.”

“But in this case,” he added, “an honest employee derailed the scheme and reported the wrongdoing to the Inspector General. I commend the employee whose actions are a testament to the power of integrity, and I caution any individual who thinks bribery is a way to circumvent the rules."

District Attorney Thompson added: “This indictment shows our commitment to root out and prosecute public corruption in Brooklyn. It also serves to put construction companies awarded city contracts on notice that we will fully investigate and prosecute any acts of bribery.”

Attorney: ‘Wonderful, Decent Human’

Elchoum’s attorney, Robert Osuna, told a New York news outlet his client pleaded not guilty at his arraignment.

“My client is a wonderful, decent human being,” the attorney told DNAinfo.com.

“An indictment is nothing but an allegation and we’re working with the prosecution for a favorable result for my client,” he added.

   

Tagged categories: Business matters; Construction; Contracts; Fraud; General contractors; Government contracts; Schools

Comment from Gail Alario, (10/28/2015, 8:23 AM)

So glad integrity beat out dishonesty! Gives hope that there are true honest people out there! God Bless!


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