A former executive at one of the world's largest construction companies carried out a massive overbilling scam that victimized North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System, Citi Field and the very federal courthouse in Brooklyn where the case is being prosecuted, officials said Tuesday.
The billing fraud, which cost about $16 million, was carried out by James Abadie, 55, who for years headed the New York office of Bovis Lend Lease, now known as Lend Lease, a major construction firm with projects around the world, said officials with the U.S. Justice Department.
Abadie, of Westchester County, pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court in Brooklyn to conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud by overbilling Bovis' clients for about 10 years, according to investigators. He remained free on $500,000 bond. Defense attorney Stephen E. Kaufmman couldn't be reached.
Abadie directed the company to add systematically one to two hours of unworked overtime per day to time sheets for labor foremen, according to federal filings. Abadie was charged with directing his subordinates to carry out the false billings.
Bovis was also charged in a separate federal criminal case with responsibility for the fraud and also with making undisclosed lump sum payments to a labor foreman from Local 79 Mason Tenders' District Council of Greater New York, payments also passed along to clients, said officials. But as part of a deferred prosecution agreement with the government, Bovis agreed to pay up to $56 million in penalties and restitution. The company also agreed to institute reforms.
Other projects affected were the U.S. Post Office, the Bronx Criminal Courthouse, Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan and the Deutsche Bank demolition at Ground Zero, said Brooklyn U.S. attorney Loretta Lynch.
A spokesman for North Shore-LIJ, Terry Lynam, said the hospital project was the construction of 10-story, $300-million patient tower in New Hyde Park that opened in January. Hospital officials were trying to calculate the overbilled amount, he said.
"We accept responsibility for what happened in the past and have agreed to continue to make restitution to the affected clients," Lend Lease executive Robert McNamara said.
Officials at Local 79 couldn't be reached for comment late Tuesday. A spokesman for the Mets declined to comment.