A former public works supervisor at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point pleaded guilty Thursday to receiving a bribe in what a federal prosecutor described as a bid-rigging scheme.
Frank DeCarlo, 67, of Franklin Square, admitted in federal court in Central Islip that he took cash kickbacks as a public official, in exchange for helping vendors win contracts in his job heading the academy’s carpentry shop.
Authorities said Thursday that a corruption probe into procurement practices at the school — a federal service academy that educates merchant marine officers — is continuing.
Earlier this year, former academy employee John McCormick, then 60, pleaded guilty to taking bribes from contractors. The Atlantic Beach man, who oversaw building maintenance contracts, is awaiting sentencing.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Burton Ryan said in court Thursday that DeCarlo arranged with a number of vendors to get work for them by putting in phony bids and then getting cash payments. He said the evidence against DeCarlo included videotapes, along with books that authorities recovered showing payments made over a long span of time.
DeCarlo, whose title was wood crafter supervisor, perpetrated the scheme from 2003 to 2016, according to court records. Authorities said he also agreed to pay back $48,000, or about the amount they alleged he got in kickbacks that one contractor recorded in a ledger.
A U.S. Maritime Administration official said Thursday that DeCarlo’s academy employment ended in November 2016.
A source familiar with the matter said DeCarlo retired following his arrest.
The Army veteran served in Vietnam and worked at the academy for 26 years, according to his attorney, Brian Griffin. After the plea, Griffin called his client’s actions “a significant error in judgment” following “a long and distinguished career.”
The lawyer added: “Today, as he has always done in his life, he accepted responsibility for this error. We are hopeful that his impeccable background, his service to his country and to the academy, in both time of peace and war, and his service to his community, will be considered” at the time of sentencing.
The U.S. attorney’s office has said one or more contractors was cooperating in the case after also being indicted. Authorities said in the federal complaint against DeCarlo that one unnamed general contractor, working on behalf of federal agents, made three cash payments to DeCarlo in order to win work at the academy.
That contractor also told federal officials it was known in the construction trades that in order to get contract awards from the school, it was necessary to pay “kickbacks” to academy employees, court records show.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Anne Shields said Thursday that DeCarlo could get a maximum sentence of 15 years under his plea.
Under sentencing guidelines, he’s facing about 3 years behind bars, authorities said. The judge scheduled his sentencing for Sept. 8 and continued his $50,000 bond.
DeCarlo didn’t comment as he left court.