A Manhattan judge has dismissed charges against a Setauket contractor indicted on allegations he accepted more than $17,000 in bribes from two subcontractors in connection with electrical work at the rebuilt World Trade Center, writing in a decision last week that prosecutors had presented "insufficient evidence."
James Luckie, the former electrical manager at Cushman & Wakefield, a commercial real estate services company that manages the World Trade Center, was indicted by the state attorney general's office in 2019 along with Paul Angerame, of Manhattan and Michael Garrison, of Stony Point in connection with an alleged "pay-to-play" arrangement from 2015 to 2017. The judge dismissed charges against Angerame and Garrison as well.
Prosecutors had alleged Angerame and Garrison, who worked for the commercial electrical contracting company Hatzel & Buehler, which was hired by Cushman & Wakefield, provided Luckie with "lavish gifts and entertainment" in exchange for special favors and preferential treatment at the WTC site.
Prosecutors had said the $17,138 in unauthorized gifts and entertainment included New York Knicks tickets worth more than $7,600, a $3,850 Florida golf trip and a $405 golf outing at Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point in the Bronx.
On July 23, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Maxwell Wiley threw out the indictments alleging corruption and bribery against all three men in a 16-page decision. Wiley rejected arguments made by the New York attorney general's office that because Luckie's firm was hired by the Port Authority, a government agency, Luckie was a "public servant" under state law and the gifts he received therefore constituted bribery of a public official.
The judge also cited a lack of evidence that the defendants had an agreement to carry out the alleged scheme and said the AG's office failed to show that either the Port Authority or Cushman "suffered economic harm" because of the defendant's actions — both legal elements required to obtain a conviction.
Wiley noted that Angerame and Garrison had submitted expense reports to their employer Hatzel & Buehler detailing the gifts to Luckie as "entertainment expenses," which were approved.
"Had this been an illicit agreement involving a quid pro quo, it seems extremely probable to this court that Garrison and Angerame would have attempted to conceal the underlying bribe," Wiley wrote.
Defense attorneys for the three men said in a statement that the judge's decision amounted to a "sweeping and categorical rejection of the NY AG’s theory of the prosecution" and said the AG's office had attempted an "unprecedented expansion of the scope of the New York public bribery laws."
A spokesman for Attorney General Letitia James did not respond to a message seeking comment.
Luckie's Manhattan-based defense attorney Daniel McGillycuddy said that his client was not a public employee and, therefore, he and the other men should have never been charged.
"As Judge Wiley made clear, these were ordinary business expenses and there was no evidence demonstrating anything to the contrary," said McGillycuddy.