Instead of installing eco-friendly toilets in New York, a contractor set up a bribery ring that flushed the city of $1.3 million. Frank Rizzo, 31, of Jamesburg, N.J., has pleaded guilty to fraud, bribery, tax-evasion and money-laundering charges flowing from his dirty racket.
Rizzo worked for Volt Viewtech that was contracted by the city's Department of Environmental Protection to run a toilet-rebate program to save water. However, rather than looking after the environment, he took care of his bank account by taking checks that were supposed to be paid to property owners who installed low-flushing toilets, federal prosecutors said.
Rizzo and other Volt Viewtech workers took bribes from plumbers and allowed them to hand in paperwork claiming toilets had been installed when they hadn't, Manhattan U.S. Attorney James Comey said.
Rizzo and his Volt Viewtech henchmen then pocketed hundreds of thousands of dollars in rebates from the DEP and gave the plumbers kickbacks, Comey said.
The rebates ranged from $150 to $240 per toilet and the city paid out about $300 million under the four-year program, which ran until 1997.
Rizzo faces up to five years in the slammer for conspiracy and tax evasion, 10 years for bribery and 20 years for money laundering. He also faces fines that could run into millions of dollars.
After a lengthy investigation involving the Internal Revenue Service and New York City Department of Investigation, nine other people were also charged last year. Six of them have pleaded guilty, while three others - plumbers Abraham Markowitz, Max Weisz and Elias Bochner - are scheduled for trial in Manhattan federal court on Oct. 28.