NEW YORK—A former Bloomberg LP executive is among 13 people charged in a pay-to-play scheme involving construction work at two of the company’s Manhattan offices.
The defendants were paraded into court in handcuffs to enter not guilty pleas as about a dozen state troopers lined a criminal court in Manhattan.
Prosecutors said the defendants took kickbacks from subcontractors and vendors who then inflated their bills by millions of dollars.
The company’s former head of global construction, Anthony Guzzone, is accused of starting up his own electrical contracting company and steering $250 million worth of Bloomberg contracts its way.
“Mr. Guzzone has had an unblemished life and a distinguished career,” his lawyer, Alex Spiro, told the New York Times. “We will fight any allegation against him.”
Prosecutors said at least $3 million was laundered using phoney invoices from an electrical materials distributor. Angel Ocasio, a former branch manager at the distributor, Tuttle & Hughes, is accused of drawing up 75 fabricated invoices to hide money paid to an electric subcontractor, Hugh O’Kane. Ocasio’s lawyer downplayed his alleged involvement, saying he was a “lowly data-entry clerk.”
Management at Bloomberg L.P. wasn’t aware of the alleged scheme until authorities told them about it last year, prosecutors said. The company’s founder and CEO, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, has been taking steps toward a potential 2020 presidential run and recently announced he was switching his voter registration to the Democratic Party.
“This sends a strong message to contractors in New York who engage in fraud: You will be caught,” Bloomberg LP spokesman Ty Trippet said in a statement. “We thank the Manhattan district attorney’s office for uncovering this scheme and for their diligent work and partnership on this investigation.”