Real Estate Weekly
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Construction & Design

Pay-to-play Citibank real estate boss jailed

A Citibank construction executive has been sentenced to two to six years in state prison for his role in a pay-to-play scheme.

And a second bank worker has been accused of being complicit in the con that saw at at least half a million dollars in back-handers from contracting companies seeking business with the bank.

“Bribery and bid-rigging has, unfortunately, plagued the construction industry for generations,” said District Attorney Cyrus Vance announcing the sentencing last week of former director of Global Construction for Citibank’s Citi Realty Services, John Cassisi.

“By uncovering this scheme, which has already led to four individuals and two corporations accepting responsibility for their illegal behavior, the Office’s Rackets Bureau is continuing the tradition of rooting out pay-to-play culture and protecting the integrity of this industry as a whole.”MONEYinasuitcase

Cassisi pleaded guilty to one count each of Money Laundering in the Third Degree and Commercial Bribe Receiving in the First Degree, and was sentenced to two to six years in state prison for receiving at least half a million dollars in bribes, including cash payments and other lavish gifts, from contracting companies seeking business with the bank.

Three other individuals — Arthur Fazio, David Adelhardt and Edward Welsh — as well as two corporations, Adelhardt Construction Corp. and Adco Electrical Corp. have also pleaded guilty for their roles facilitating these payments.

A fifth defendant, Mark File was indicted last week in on charges related to his role in the scheme, including Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree, Money Laundering in the Fourth Degree, Commercial Bribing in the Second Degree, and other charges.

According to documents filed in court, as the Director of Global Construction for Citi Realty Services between January 2012 and December 2014, Cassisi was responsible for oversight of construction related to Citibank’s real estate holdings, including the awarding of construction contracts.

During this period, Cassisi admitted that, without the consent of Citibank, he accepted or agreed to accept cash and other gifts — including extravagant hunting trips and construction services performed at his own home — totaling approximately $500,000.

The cash payments and gifts were provided by various individuals representing contracting companies, with the understanding that it would influence Cassisi’s decisions related to awarding contracts.

On October 6, 2015, Cassisi pleaded guilty in New York State Supreme Court. As part of the plea, in addition to the two to six year prison sentence, he is required to forfeit $500,000.

Fazio, former senior vice president for Citi Realty Services at Citibank, admitted falsifying business records, including the creation of fictitious purchase orders to cover up the personal construction services being performed by a contractor at Cassisi’s home without incurring the expense. He will be sentenced later this month.

Adelhardt, president of Adelhardt Construction, and Welsh, president of Adco,admitted falsifying business records to cover up payments to Cassisi.

Adelhardt was jailed for one year and his company ordered to pay $442,000 in restitution.

Welsh — who paid for a $21,500 Alaskan hunting trip for the corrupt banker — was sentenced to a one-year conditional discharge and a fine of $1,000. As part of his plea, he must leave his position at ADCO within six months. His firm was also subject to a forfeiture of $500,000.

File, Cassisi’s subordinate, was indicted separately on bid-rigging charges with other contracting companies in order to stifle competition during the bidding process.

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