Ten former PennDOT employees charged in $1.2 million fraud case

By Land Line staff | Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Eight highway inspectors and two permit managers who worked for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation have been charged in criminal court for their alleged roles in a $1.2 million corruption and bribery scheme.

Chargers against the men were filed in state court on Dec. 17. As many as 27 federally funded maintenance and construction contracts in Pennsylvania may be affected, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General.

The complaints allege that Alex Morrone, former PennDOT permits manager, and William Rosetti, former Philadelphia County permit manager, demanded kickbacks from project inspectors while requiring them to falsify time, attendance and payroll records to generate illicit cash flow, according to the news release from OIG. They also allege that the corrupt inspectors were paid more than $500,000 through false payroll and invoice submissions. Additionally, two leading inspection firms, CMC Engineering and CZOP Corp., were allegedly paid more than $700,000 for their employees’ unearned overtime.

In addition to Morrone and Rosetti, those charged included PennDOT inspectors Frank DiMichele and Generoso Palmieri, and consultant inspectors Joseph DiSimone, John Cavanaugh, John Laspada, Brandon Grosso, David Betzner, and Christopher Lauch.

The complaints also state that project inspectors performed home improvement services for PennDOT officials while payroll records falsely indicated that they were performing inspection duties. In addition to the monetary fraud, the state grand jury contended that the scheme jeopardized safety because paid project inspectors, hired to protect the public and Pennsylvania highway infrastructure, were often absent from job sites and therefore failed to perform inspection duties.

The investigation further revealed that the subject PennDOT managers instructed the consultant inspectors, who were close friends and relatives, to falsify their resumes. In turn, the PennDOT officials allegedly used their influence with the contract engineering companies to hire these unqualified individuals as consultant inspectors. These inspectors then falsified documents to inflate overtime income and mileage reimbursements and kicked money back to the PennDOT managers.

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