An alleged pay-to-play scheme for a slice of the World Trade Center rebuilding effort came to light when electricians on the site complained some of their fellow sparkies were out of their depth.
When the Port Authority started investigating, they discovered that a trio of corrupt contractors had given family and friends jobs on the site. In all, they collected over $1 million in wages and benefits for working as electricians with no qualifications.
Yesterday, former Cushman & Wakefield manager James Luckie, 58, of Setaucket, NY; Paul Angerame, 59, of Manhattan, NY; and Michael Garrison, 59, of Stony Point, NY were charged in a scheme that involved exchanging lavish gifts and entertainment for preferential work and confidential information.
In an indictment, Attorney General Letitia James said, from September 2015 through June 9, 2017, Angerame and Garrison, former managers at Hatzel & Buehler electrical contractors, provided Luckie with at least $17,138 in unauthorized gifts and entertainment, which included season tickets for the New York Knicks and 2015 Mets World Series tickets, and golf trips to Florida and Trump Ferry Point as well as on-demand luxury car service.
“These individuals were trusted with rebuilding the site of the worst terror attack in American history, but instead, allegedly squandered public funds to line their own pockets,” said James.
“Not only did they trade lavish gifts for confidential information and preferential work, but they put lives at risk by hiring unqualified workers to carry out serious electrical work at the site. Let this serve as a loud and clear message: we will crack down on corruption of any kind and will work to ensure public integrity and accountability throughout New York.”
The Port Authority owns and operates the World Trade Center site and was completing the rebuilding after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack.
In June 2013, the Port Authority contracted with Cushman & Wakefield to provide management, operations, repairs, and maintenance services, including electrical work, for shared and common areas at the World Trade Center.
Cushman & Wakefield hired Hatzel & Buehler to provide electrical maintenance services at the World Trade Center. On behalf of the Port Authority, Luckie supervised the electrical work at the World Trade Center, including the Hatzel & Buehler electricians and supervisors.
Angerame was the general manager of the New York office of Hatzel & Buehler and Garrison was the project manager responsible for the World Trade Center contract.
As per the contractual agreements, Luckie and other Cushman & Wakefield staff and the Hatzel & Buehler electricians who worked at the World Trade Center were paid from a Port Authority operations account for electrician’s time and material.
In return, the AG claims, Luckie gave Angerame and Garrison confidential information about Requests for Proposals, future electrical work, budgeting for proposed new work, and other assistance not available to competing electrical contractors.
The trio is accused of hiring seven family members and friends as electricians even though they weren’t qualified for the job.
In late 2016, the Port Authority Office of the Inspector General received a safety complaint about unqualified electricians working at the World Trade Center who were endangering themselves and their co-workers due to their lack of ability to work with high voltage electricity and perform routine maintenance.
The Port Authority IG commenced an investigation of the safety complaint and discovered the gifts and business entertainment. Cushman & Wakefield and Hatzel & Buehler completed a competency review of the qualifications and skills of the electricians at the World Trade Center and terminated the unqualified electricians.