Company With Big City Contracts Is Tied to Mob Schemes in New York City

Company With Big City Contracts Is Tied to Mob Schemes in Affidavit

Published: July 2, 2008

An affidavit filed in federal court in Brooklyn suggests that officials with the Schiavone Construction Company, a contracting giant working on some of the largest public works projects in New York City, were involved in variety of schemes involving organized crime in recent years.

The affidavit, filed in 2005 as part of an organized crime investigation that has led to scores of arrests, says that Schiavone executives plotted to evade a requirement that they seek to hire businesses owned by women on a city project by using a front that was actually meant to funnel money to a mob-connected trucking executive.

In the affidavit, a federal agent, citing secretly recorded tapes of Schiavone officials and statements by the trucking executive, details the steps Schiavone officials said they would take to help carry out the scheme.

They included an offer by senior Schiavone executives to hire a secretary and install a telephone line at the front company’s offices just for Schiavone projects. Another Schiavone employee was recorded saying that he would provide signs bearing the front company’s name to mask the ownership of the mob-connected trucks, and heard coaching the trucking executive on how to file job paperwork. Another employee was recorded telling the trucking executive that a woman should answer the phone at the front company’s job-site trailer, and directing how she should greet callers.

Schiavone, which was formed in the 1950s and grew into one of the largest heavy-construction companies in the New York area, has been awarded more than $2 billion in public works projects in recent years, including New York City’s massive Croton water filtration plant in the Bronx, said to be the subject of the fraud scheme. Work on the construction of the Second Avenue subway is another of its projects.

Until the company was sold to a Spanish conglomerate late last year, 50 percent of it was owned by Raymond J. Donovan, the labor secretary in the Reagan administration. He was tried and acquitted in 1987 on state fraud charges that accused him of stealing $7.4 million from a subway contract through a scheme involving a Genovese crime family associate and a minority-owned subcontractor.

The 2005 affidavit quotes Nicholas Calvo, a carting company executive identified by prosecutors as a Genovese crime family associate, telling a union official that Schiavone Construction had ties to the Genovese family.

Mr. Calvo told the union official that he had obtained work for another trucking company at the New York City Water Tunnel No. 3, another massive project where Schiavone holds a city contract, through his influence over Schiavone, according to the affidavit. Mr. Calvo, who was arrested earlier this year in the broader organized crime investigation, pleaded guilty this month to extortion conspiracy charges in United States District Court in Brooklyn.

No charges have been brought against Schiavone Construction or the officials implicated in the scheme detailed in the affidavit, although its head of tunneling operations, Anthony Delvescovo, and a lower-level worker, Michael King, were among 62 people indicted in the broader investigation.

The affidavit, which was originally filed under seal, was disclosed last week by Dominic F. Amorosa, a lawyer for one of the defendants in the broader case, who attached it to another document he filed seeking to have wiretap evidence against his client suppressed.

Schiavone’s general counsel, Mary Libassi, said in a written statement on Monday that some of the affidavit’s allegations against Schiavone were untrue, and that the company was cooperating with the investigation, which is being overseen by the United States attorney in Brooklyn.

“Schiavone has operated and continues to operate within the law,” she said. “In its projects, Schiavone has used appropriately certified minority, women’s and disadvantaged business enterprises.”

Of the 62 people charged in the broader case, just Mr. Delvescovo and Mr. King were indicted on charges related to Schiavone. Fifty-three of the defendants have either pleaded guilty or have agreed to, and nine — including the two men — are expected to go to trial in the coming months.

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