A Syosset man was indicted on charges of commercial bribery and fraud on Dec. 18 after a three-year investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office uncovered a bribery scheme that steered millions of dollars of Unity Electric Company business to various electrical supply companies.
Donald Russo, 54, created a shell company called Bar Electrical, according to District Attorney Cyrus Vance, to accept bribes from companies doing business with Unity.
“This long-term investigation exposed nearly two dozen industry professionals alleged to have engaged in illegal activity for the purpose of self-enrichment,” said Vance. “As a result of kickback schemes like this one, New Yorkers are footing an inflated bill for public construction throughout the five boroughs—in places as varied as the JP Morgan Chase Tower, The New York Police Academy, New York City Center, and JFK Airport.”
At least 15 companies and 17 individuals have been charged to date. Approximately $14 million will be forfeited, approximately $500,000 will be paid in restitution, including $150,000 to be repaid to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 3 employee benefit fund, and more than $1 million will be repaid to the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, a result of this investigation, according to Vance.
According to documents filed in court, Russo illegally negotiated with electrical suppliers to receive between two and three percent of Unity’s purchases.
Through these commercial bribery and larceny schemes, between 2008 and 2012, Russo allegedly pocketed more than $600,000 from five electrical supply companies in exchange for his steering business to them. The funds were deposited into a bank account held by Bar Electrical.
“It appears that, in addition to commercial bribery, grand larceny and numerous other charges, the defendants also attempted to cheat the State out of income taxes by falsifying business records,” said New York State Department of Taxation and Finance Commissioner Thomas Mattox.
Between 2008 and 2012, Russo also stole more than $50,000 from Unity Electric Company and hid the theft from his employer by increasing invoice amounts and splitting the increase with IGF, according to Vance.
Russo also allegedly negotiated a deal with a Unity subcontractor, where the subcontractor added more than $70,000 to its invoices to Unity Electric Company, then sent Bar Electrical invoices to the subcontractor, which paid Russo through the fake company.
Russo, along with Bar Electrical, is charged with grand larceny, falsifying business records, offering a false instrument for filing, criminal tax fraud and commercial bribe receiving.