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Post date: September 20 2012

A.G. Schneiderman Announces Conviction And Sentencing Of NYC Parks Employee Who Pocketed More Than $30,000 In Kickbacks

Joint Investigation With DOI Proved Project Manager Took Bribes On Construction Projects At Playgrounds And Ball Field In The Bronx

Schneiderman: Government Employee Who Betrayed The Public’s Trust Will Go To Jail And Pay For His Crimes

BRONX - Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the conviction and sentencing of Joseph Sdao, a former Project Manager for the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, for pocketing $30,000 in bribes to rig Bronx playground contracts. Sdao, 69, of Westbury, was sentenced to 12 weekends in jail and five years probation, and ordered to pay forfeiture of $30,000. The Attorney General’s investigation was conducted jointly with the New York City Department of Investigation.

"Corrupt public servants who violate their official duties undermine the public's confidence in the governmental process and will be vigorously prosecuted by this office. Betraying the public’s trust and stealing money from the taxpayers will not be tolerated," said Attorney General Schneiderman. "Today's sentence demonstrates our commitment to working with our investigative partners to root out corruption within government agencies and hold criminals accountable for their actions.”

DOI Commissioner Rose Gill Hearnsaid, "Corruption is insidious, especially when a City manager betrays the public trust by sharing confidential contract information in order to pad his pockets with cash. This defendant's corrupt conduct earned him a conviction and jail sentence, and thankfully he no longer works for the City. This outcome should deter any City employee tempted to help himself to kickbacks and bribes rather than serve the public: arrest, prosecution, conviction, and jail are the risk. DOI will continue to work with its law enforcement partners to uncover and stop bribery."

The sentencing came after Sdao pleaded guilty in August to the top charge of the indictment, felony bribe receiving in the second degree, before Honorable Martin Marcus of Bronx County Supreme Court.

Sdao admitted that he received bribes from a construction vendor. Sdao told the court that, in his official capacity as a Project Manager for the Parks Department, he agreed to provide a particular vendor with a copy of an engineer's estimate prior to the competitively-bid submission date. The engineer's estimate is an internal Parks Department document that is not intended for public consumption until after the bid submission date. In exchange, Sdao took a percentage of the contract price if the vendor won the contracts. Sdao also admitted that he allowed the employees of the vendor to submit invoices to the Parks Department at artificially inflated prices for materials in exchange for bribe payments that represented a percentage of the difference between the engineer's estimated price and an inflated price. The scheme resulted in Sdao accepting bribes of more than $30,000.

Sdao was arrested and charged in April with five felony counts, including two counts of Bribe Receiving in the Second Degree, one count of Bribe Receiving in the Third Degree, and two counts of Combination in Restraint of Trade and Competition, a violation of the Donnelly Act.

The prosecution is part of Attorney General Schneiderman's efforts to crack down on public corruption at all levels of government. The case arose out of an investigation by the Labor Bureau of the Attorney General's Office.

The Attorney General thanked the New York City Department of Investigation for its assistance in this investigation, particularly Assistant Inspector General William Holland and Deputy Inspector General Michael Healy.

Prosecuting the case are Assistant Attorneys General YuJin Hong and Ann Marie Preissler, under the supervision of Public Integrity Deputy Bureau Chief Stacy Aronowitz, Chief William E. Schaeffer, and Executive Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice Nancy Hoppock.

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