Say Contractor Bought Off LIC Man
A former Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) official from Long Island City was arrested last Thursday, Oct. 30, for lining his pockets with a portion of $175,000 in bribes from an out-of-state company, it was announced.
DEP Transportation Section Chief Dennis Jones, 48, was charged with bribe receiving in the third-degree, receiving reward for official misconduct in the second degree–both felonies–and misdemeanors for official misconduct and receiving unlawful gratuities, according to the criminal complaint. He faces up to seven years in prison on the bribery charge; four years for misconduct; and up to a year on both misdemeanors, law enforcement sources stated.
Jones began working at the DEP in 1990, and was reportedly receiving a six-figure salary when he resigned in September 2013.
According to the Department of Investigation (DOI), between 1998 and 2012, FLO TREND, a Texas-based company with $14 million in half a dozen contracts with DEP for the maintenance, repair and supply of waste holding containers gave improper benefits to three city employees, including Yankees season tickets and laptop computers.
A FLO TREND vice president was charged with bribery offenses as well, according to the investigation.
“DOI’s investigation uncovered a bribery scheme that benefited everyone but the city, and defrauded the taxpayers of tens of thousands of dollars, according to the charges,” DOI Commissioner Mark G. Peters said “Most significantly, DOI’s investigation led to the strengthening of oversight regarding DEP’s requirements contracts, preventing this type of criminal conduct in the future.”
Under city conflicts rules, a contractor is not allowed to provide or offer goods and services in excess of $50 to city employees, the DOI noted.
It is alleged that Jones, who was responsible for drafting FLO TREND’s contracts and approving purchase orders, instructed the firm to submit fraudulent purchase orders to cover item expenses that were funnelled towards improper benefits.
These allegedly included mobile phone plans, Las Vegas vacations, gas cards and fishing trips to Montauk, according to the investigation.
In addition, the DOI uncovered that a DEP consolidation of authority supervising the contract, and a lack of oversight and review of these employees decisions made the agency particularly vulnerable to the illegal conduct, it was noted.
As a result of the investigation, the DOI reportedly urged the DEP to reform its policies which lead to the illegal conduct.
A statement noted that going forward, DEP has agreed to rotate the project managers; randomly check a sampling of approved requirements contracts orders before DEP makes purchase or takes action; and to authorize DEP’s Engineering and Audits Office to provide an additional process of review.
This investigation into the scheme was conducted by DOI’s Office of the Inspector General for DEP, specifically Assistant Inspectors General Sadie Boursiquot and Byron Biggerstaff, and Special Investigators Joshua Richardson and Dan Taylor, under the supervision of Inspector General Gregory Cho and Senior Associate Commissioner Michael Carroll.
Assistant District Attorney Theresa Smith from the office of Queens County DistrictAttorney Richard A. Brown is prosecuting the case under the supervision of James M. Liander, chief of the District Attorney’s Integrity Bureau.