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Construction kickbacks in Westchester?

Construction cutbacks and similar shenanigans are usually associated with the big, bad city. An investigation in Westchester County may prove otherwise.

New York State is investigating widespread corruption and racketeering in Westchester's construction industry, as first reported in Gannett Suburban Newspapers last week.

The state's Organized Crime Task Force probe, according to the news story, involves the recent guilty plea of an executive from the Robert Martin Company, one of Westchester's largest owners and developers. Ross J. Muscalino, a former vice president of construction at the firm, pleaded guilty to felony tax evasion charges in November and was sentenced last week to pay restitution to his former employer and back state taxes and to serve five years probation.

The task force told Gannett Muscalino is involved in a larger investigation and that their Construction Industry Strike Force, in White Plains, was working on cases geared toward racketeering and corruption in the construction industry.

While Muscalino only pleaded guilty to the tax charge, a civil law suit, filed by Robert Martin Company, asserts Muscalino set up a dummy corporation to receive free work on his Mount Pleasant home from subcontractors working with the development company. The suit also charges Muscalino would in return approve contracts for those subcontractors. Cash kickbacks for Muscalino near $1 million were also alleged in the suit.

Corruption was discovered internally at the Robert Martin Company two and one-half years ago, a top official told Gannet. At that time a number of employees were dismissed. Civil suits are said to have been failed against other employees as well.

In other legal documents, Robert Martin charges that two contractors paid company employees cash kickbacks in exchange for contracts. They also accuse the contractors -- Briar Electric Inc. or Verplanck and Fleetstar Construction Co. -- billed the developer for false projects and materials that were never used.
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Title Annotation:New York State investigates corruption and racketeering in Westchester County construction industry
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Jun 10, 1992
Previous Article:Lefrak: city to recover from 'Decade of Swine.' (developer J. Samuel LeFrak addresses real estate industry conference)
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