When the U.S. government embraces gangsters

Written by Fcadmin | 07 April 2011

The construction industry has a bad reputation of fraud, cost overruns, and safety violations that’s well-earned.  So the federal government and New York state came up with a crimebusting taskforce – including the U.S. Departments of Justice, Labor and Transportation, the IRS, the New York State Inspector General, and the New York City of Department of Transportation – aimed at construction activity.

They knew they were going after the five Mafia families, but they also ended up with a big catch – the gigantic firm known as Tutor Perini.

Fraud, conspiracy

Last month, according to the New York U.S. Attorney’s Office,  “Following a four-week trial, a federal jury in Brooklyn found Zohrab B. Marashlian, the former president of Perini Corp.’s Civil Division, an international construction services corporation, guilty of fraud and conspiracy to launder money.  The charges arose out of Marashlian’s false representation to New York government agencies that Disadvantaged Business Entities (DBEs) were performing work in connection with major public works contracts, when, in reality, Marashlian had non-disadvantaged businesses favored by Perini Corp. do the work.”

Tutor Perini paid Marashlian $14 million in salary while all this was going on.  Two days before Marashlian was to receive a multiyear prison sentence, he committed suicide.  A fellow employee is currently doing a long prison term for the same case.

Perini has been caught doing such things over and over again.   It is like DBE fronting and fraud are part of its business model.

From the Seattle News: “In February, Tutor-Saliba and Perini agreed to pay $19 million to settle racketeering and fraud allegations in a San Francisco airport project.  In 2004, Perini agreed to pay the federal government $998,500 to settle fraud claims in the construction of an embassy building in Venezuela.  The companies are embroiled in an 11-year legal battle over $16 million in extra costs on a Los Angeles subway job.  Perini sued for more than $170 million in cost overruns on three New York City projects during the 1990s before settling for about $22 million.”

Growing anyway

Any Black-owned firm doing any of the above would be permanently banned from doing anymore federal contracting.  But Perini has actually grown exponentially in the government contracting field.

How can this be?  Well, the principal owner of Tutor Perini is Richard Blum, the husband of U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) who serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee – which oversees the U.S. Department of Defense.

Since joining the U.S. Senate, Feinstein and her husband have enjoyed billions of dollars in defense contracts.  She voted for the Afghanistan war, and their company is rolling in directly related contracts.  She voted for the Iraq war, and their company has been rolling in Iraqi contracts ever since.

American soldiers die and the senator and her husband prosper handsomely and with reckless abandon.  It got so ridiculous that when she became the chair of the Armed Services Committee, even her counterparts said, “That’s enough!”  She stepped down from her chair seat, but is still on the committee – and the dollars continue to roll in.

Obama participates

Feinstein voted for the stimulus bill and Perini was showered with more federally funded contracts.  President Obama even participated in this one.  He kicked off the highway contracts with a press conference at a highway construction site in Virginia, showing the world what the stimulus money was doing.  The contractor he put on display was Cherry Hill Construction.  Who owns Cherry Hill Construction?  Tutor Perini!

It gets worse.  The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency has organized a public relations program that touts, “MBDA Unveils First U.S. Global Construction Program for Minority-Owned Firms.”  The instructor of the program is none other than Tutor Perini!  Sending minority firms for instruction by Tutor Perini is like sending maidens to a brothel – something real bad is going to happen.

Every penny of the abuse and waste is our tax money.  We need to clean this up.

Harry Alford is the co-founder and president/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce. Contact him via www.nationalbcc.org.

( Original Article )



Posted on April 8, 2011, in Fraud & Corruption, United States and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on When the U.S. government embraces gangsters.

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