FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, October 26, 2015
Staten Island Contractor Indicted For Bribery
Faces Up to Seven Years in Prison if Convicted
Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson, together with New York City Department of Investigation Commissioner Mark G. Peters, today announced that the owner of a Staten Island construction company who was awarded a nearly $2.5 million contract with the School Construction Authority has been indicted for allegedly offering $3,500 in bribes to expedite payments for the work.
District Attorney Thompson said, “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.”
Commissioner Peters said, “This charged criminal conduct is corruption at its most fundamental. But in this case, 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.”
The defendant, Abdulkader Kassem Elchoum, 55, of Staten Island, was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun on an indictment in which he is charged with six counts of third-degree bribery. He was released without bail and ordered to return to court on December 12, 2015. If convicted, he faces up to seven years in prison.
The District Attorney said that, according to the indictment, in or about April 2014, the School Construction Authority sought bids for a new corridor, a fire alarm upgrade, and heating, ventilation and air conditioning work at Public School 138K in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. The defendant, who owns AMA Construction/NY, Inc., submitted the lowest bid of $2.478 million and was awarded the contract.
The SCA, according to the indictment, generally pays its construction contractors in installments, depending on the nature and amount of work completed. In or about early June 2015, the defendant expected a payment in the amount of approximately $163,000. On June 3, 2015, the defendant allegedly offered an SCA project officer, who was assigned to monitor the project, a bribe of $2,000 to expedite the $163,000 payment. The project officer had previously reported an improper overture and the SCA’s Inspector General’s office immediately followed up.
Furthermore, according to the indictment, between June 8, 2015 and August 10, 2015, on five separate occasions, the defendant delivered a total of approximately $3,500 in cash to the project officer, with the understanding that he would use his influence to expedite payments to AMA and limit SCA scrutiny of AMA’s work.
The investigation was conducted by SCA Inspector General Investigators William J. O’Brien and Jose Romero, under the supervision of Deputy Counsel Jason S. Herman, Assistant Inspector General John Gray, and the overall supervision of Inspector General Maria Mostajo. The Inspector General for SCA reports to DOI Commissioner Mark G. Peters.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Adam S. Libove of the District Attorney’s Public Integrity Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Michael Spanakos, Bureau Chief, and the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney William E. Schaeffer, Chief of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division.
An indictment is an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt.