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National Grid managers plead guilty in bribery, kickback scheme

October 5, 2021 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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On Monday in Brooklyn Federal Court, Patrick McCrann and Richard Zavada, two former employees of a utility company that was identified in a Public Service Commission document as National Grid, pleaded guilty to accepting bribes and kickbacks from the owners of a Long Island-based contractor in exchange for steering lucrative contracts to the contractor.

The defendants were managers employed in the facilities department of the utility who steered contracts to certain Long Island-based contractors, including the contractor, in exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes and kickbacks, according to court documents.

Last week, Ricardo Garcia and Jevan Seepaul, two other former employees of  National Grid, according to several online sources, also pleaded guilty to accepting bribes and kickbacks from the contractor. Monday’s proceedings took place before United States District Judge Carol Bagley Amon.

According to court documents, the contractor secured more than $50 million in facility maintenance contracts from the utility during the time that the contractor was paying bribes to the defendants. As managers, the defendants had the authority to approve “no-bid” contracts valued at less than $50,000.

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The contractor understood that if it did not pay bribes, the defendants would award the work to the contractor’s competitors. In exchange for the bribe payments, the defendants also took various steps to assist the contractor in obtaining contracts from the company for which there was a bidding process, including providing it with non-public bidding information, circumventing the company’s competitive bidding process. The contractor then paid bribes to ensure that the defendants did not slow or stop disbursement of project funds to the contractor, provide negative performance reviews regarding the contractor’s work, or otherwise claim that the contractor’s work did not meet contractual specifications.

The illicit payments to the defendants included cash, the purchase of a recreational vehicle, home improvements, landscaping and an overseas vacation. As part of the investigation, agents recovered approximately $300,000 in cash from a safe deposit box held by Zavada.

When sentenced, each defendant faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison, a maximum fine of $500,000, mandatory restitution and forfeiture.

Jacquelyn M. Kasulis, acting United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Michael J. Driscoll, assistant director-in-charge, FBI, New York Field Office, announced the guilty pleas.

“The defendants have admitted to accepting thousands of dollars in bribes and kickbacks for their own enrichment and to subverting the no-bid process for awarding contracts,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Kasulis. “The office will remain vigilant in prosecuting criminals who seek to enrich themselves at the expense of taxpayers and consumers.”

As alleged in the criminal information and other court filings, the government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Public Integrity Section. Assistant United States Attorneys Turner Buford and Artie McConnell are in charge of the prosecution.

Zavada’s attorney is Edward R. Palermo on Long Island.

McCrann’s attorney is Peter Bark. Garcia is represented by Jonathan Rosenberg of Brooklyn, and Seepaul is represented by attorneys Jeffrey Lichtman and Jeff Einhorn.

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