A.G. Schneiderman Announces Indictment Of Former NYS Office Of General Services Engineer-in-Charge For Defrauding The Government And Accepting Bribes

Joint Investigation With New York State Inspector General’s Office (“OIG”), New York State Comptroller's Office (“OSC”), And New York State Office of General Services (“OGS”) Reveals Former Employee Abused His Authority To Obtain More Than $50K Worth of Construction And Home Improvement Items At State’s Expense And Engaged In Cover-Up

Schneiderman: Corrupt Government Employees Who Betray The Public’s Trust Will Be Vigorously Prosecuted By This Office

WATERLOO, Seneca County - Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the indictment of John Hall, a former Engineer-in-Charge for the New York State Office of General Services who oversaw emergency service projects, for defrauding the State of more than $50,000.As alleged in the indictment, Hall approved fraudulent expense reports submitted to OGS by a contractor, in exchange for expensive construction equipment and home improvement materials, which Hall solicited and obtained from the contractor for Hall’s personal use.Hall, an Owego resident, is charged with sixteen felonies, including one count of Defrauding the Government, one count of Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree, one count of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, one count of Bribe Receiving in the Second Degree, two counts of Bribe Receiving in the Third Degree, five counts of Tampering with Physical Evidence, and five counts of Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree.Hall was arraigned today in Seneca County Court before the Honorable Justice Dennis Bender.

"Corrupt public servants who abuse their official duties undermine the public's confidence in government. Betraying the public’s trust and stealing money from taxpayers is unacceptable and will be vigorously prosecuted by this office," said Attorney General Schneiderman. "I want to thank our partners in the Inspector General’s office and the Office of General Services, as well as State Comptroller DiNapoli, for assisting our efforts to root out corruption in government agencies and state projects.”

Thomas P. DiNapoli, the New York State Comptroller,said, "Public servants should never seek private gain, as this employee did when he allegedly sold his integrity for the use of a backhoe and other illegal perks.Our office will continue to work with Attorney General Schneiderman and other state agencies to investigate and prosecute public corruption."

The indictment charges that from in or around July 2006 to in or around February 2009, John Hall engaged in a scheme to defraud OGS and accept bribes from a contractor working on OGS emergency repair projects at state facilities.According to the indictment, in his official capacity as an Engineer-in-Charge for OGS, Hall was responsible for reviewing and approving contractors’ expense reports submitted to OGS for labor and equipment expenses incurred on emergency service projects.Hall abused that role to solicit construction and home improvement-related items, including a John Deere brand backhoe that cost more than $40,000, for his personal use from a contractor working on OGS projects that Hall oversaw.As part of the scheme, Hall approved the contractors’ fraudulent expense reports that inflated labor and equipment costs on emergency service projects.

The indictment also charges that Hall covered up the scheme by creating false documentation concerning the benefits he received.After learning that the OIG was investigating one of the contractors that Hall oversaw, Hall created documents falsely indicating that he had paid for the benefits he received from the contractor. Then, after being interviewed by the Attorney General’s Office, Hall mailed the documents to the Attorney General’s Office.

The scheme resulted in Hall accepting bribes for benefits worth more than $50,000, resulting in a theft of more than $50,000 from the State.

“We would like to thank State Attorney General Schneiderman, State Inspector General Leahy Scott and State Comptroller DiNapoli for their persistence in pursuit of this case after OGS brought the matter to them for investigation,” RoAnn Destito, OGS Commissioner said. “State employees are stewards of taxpayer dollars and the public trust. It is disappointing that a single individual can cast a shadow on the hard-working employees of OGS. As this investigation demonstrates, we have no tolerance for fraud in this agency.”

Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scottsaid, “The public rightly expects that contractors who take advantage of New York taxpayers will be fully investigated and held accountable for any fraud perpetrated or crimes committed. Hall’s conduct was first discovered by OGS who then referred the matter to my office and the Office of the State Comptroller. The joint investigation found that a company, owned by a witness known to the Attorney General, overbilled OGS by $419,000 for work performed at state prisons. Hall, as the engineer in charge, allegedly turned a blind eye to these overbillings, in exchange for personal gain. Hall’s flagrant abuse requires that substantial restitution be made to New Yorkers.”

The prosecution arose out of a joint investigation by the Public Integrity Bureau of the Attorney General's Office and the OIG, OSC, and OGS. If convicted of the top charge, Hall couldbe incarcerated for a maximum period of up to 15 years in state prison.

The Attorney General thanks OGS, OSC, and OIG for their assistance in this investigation, particularly State Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott, OSC Attorney Nelson Sheingold, Investigator Stephanie Kelly, OGS Commissioner RoAnn Destito and the OGS staff.

Prosecuting the case is Assistant Attorney General Jihee G. Suh, assisted by Analyst Kerry Ann Rodriguez, under the supervision of Public Integrity Deputy Bureau Chief Stacy Aronowitz, Chief William E. Schaeffer, and Executive Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice Kelly Donovan.

Investigating the case is Investigator David Buske, assisted by Investigator Joel Cordone and Investigative Analyst Brian Selfon, and under the supervision of Supervising Investigator Richard Doyle, Deputy Chief Anthony Karam, and Chief Dominick Zarrella of the Attorney General's Investigations Bureau.

The charges are merely accusations and all defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law.

Anyone with additional information on this matter or any other public corruption is encouraged to contact the Attorney General’s Office at 1-800-996-4630.

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