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NJ Woman Sentenced in Bridge Job Pass-Through

Monday, July 10, 2017

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A New Jersey woman has been sentenced for using her business to commit fraud on a bridge project.

Carol Sanzo, 69, of Cranford, N.J., was sentenced June 20 to six months’ home confinement, four years’ probation, a $250,000 criminal forfeiture and an $18,000 fine for conspiracy to commit wire fraud, pertaining to her company’s work on the Willis Avenue Bridge Project in New York City. Sanzo pleaded guilty to the charges in July 2016.

The charges stem from stipulations on federally funded projects that contractors must subcontract, or make a good-faith effort to subcontract, qualified Disadvantaged Business Enterprises. Businesses that qualify as DBEs are at least 51 percent owned by women, African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans and/or Native Americans.

Sanzo Fraud

Originally, Sanzo was using her company, Sanzo Ltd., as a “straw” contractor to funnel payment from lead contractors to non-DBE subcontractors. From there, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation's Office of the Inspector General, she would retain kickbacks for herself, which, from 2008 to 2012, totaled $250,000.

© / Brian A. Jackson

Carol Sanzo, 69, of Cranford, N.J., has been sentenced to six months’ home confinement, four years’ probation, a $250,000 criminal forfeiture and an $18,000 fine for conspiracy to commit wire fraud pertaining to her company’s work on the Willis Avenue Bridge Project.

Sanzo Ltd. also supplied documents that falsely claimed the company was supplying fuel for the Willis Avenue Bridge Project, but according to the DOT-OIG, a non-DBE supplier was providing that service. Sanzo admitted that, from 2008 to July 2011, her business acted as a “pass-through” for funding from a prime contractor to the non-DBE fuel supplier.

Willis Avenue Bridge Project

The Willis Avenue Bridge Project was a multi-million-dollar effort to replace the 101-year-old swing bridge that connects the Bronx and Manhattan. According to the New York City Department of Transportation, which oversaw the project, over 70,000 drivers use the Willis Avenue Bridge each day, and by the early 2000s, the old span was beginning to show signs of wear due to corrosion, weather and continual daily use. The revamped bridge has wider lanes than the old bridge, and has a walking/bicycle path along the north side.

The bridge project was funded by the Federal Highway Administration, and Sanzo Ltd.’s contract was allegedly worth $6 million.

Sanzo pled guilty on July 6, 2016 to the charge, and on Aug. 23, 2016, Sanzo Ltd. was suspended by FHWA from receiving federal contracts or grant money.

This case was originally investigated with the Port Authority of New York and the New Jersey Office of the Inspector General.

It is currently unclear whether any other contractors on the project were investigated in relation to the scheme. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey's Inspector General did not immediately return a request for further information Friday (July 7).


Tagged categories: Bridges; Criminal acts; Enforcement; Ethics; Government; Infrastructure; NA; North America; Program/Project Management

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