Questions on Croton

How did fraud slip past city?


The Croton Filtration Monitoring Committee wants the Department of Environmental Protection to answer questions about one of its contractors, which recently settled a fraud suit with the city.

The DEP has refused to comment on the case, which involves the electrical contractor it hired failing to employ a master electrician, as is required by law.

On Jan. 14, Siemens Electrical, LLC, formerly Schlesinger-Siemens Electrical, LLC agreed to pay the city $10 million. Three days later, the monitoring committee — an advisory group that includes chairs of Community Boards 7, 8 and 12, Councilman Oliver Koppell and a representative of the Bronx Borough President’s Office  — asked DEP’s Shane Ojar about the settlement.

“At this point, it’s still an ongoing investigation so we can’t comment,” Mr. Ojar said.
“So why does that mean you can’t talk about it? You’re not the investigator, are you?” Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz asked from the audience.

Mr. Ojar said he was not, but refused to comment on the case, saying it was still working its way through the DEP’s legal system.

The Department of Investigator’s Office said the probe is ongoing even though a settlement was reached and it released a statement on the matter.

Two members of Siemen’s board of managers and the company itself were charged with two felonies, scheming to defraud in the first degree and offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree, as well as misdemeanor conspiracy charge.

The monitoring committee — which was created as a go-between the DEP and the Bronx communities affected by building a massive filtration plant underneath Van Cortlandt Park, as well as related work at the Jerome Park Reservoir — agreed to send a letter to DEP Commissioner Carter Strickland asking for a comment on the case and for a description of the DEP’s oversight process.

DEP officials claim they did not know that a contractor it was paying to do more than $200 million in electrical work at the plant did not employ a master electrician over a period of two years.

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