Fraud charges for ‘asphalt cartel’

(Long Island, New York) FBI agents Wednesday arrested the heads of four leading road-paving and asphalt supply contractors on Long Island, calling them an “asphalt cartel” and charging them with mail fraud in connection with alleged bid-rigging on millions of dollars in Suffolk County and Brookhaven Town roadwork.Based on conversations recorded by a confidential informant, the investigation could extend to other Long Island municipalities, including Islip Town, according to an FBI arrest affidavit. “Never be a pig. I always tell everybody, ‘Take 25 percent of everything, never 100 percent,'” James Haney, one of the arrested men, said on the tape, the affidavit said. “That was my philosophy.”Those arrested yesterday were William Fehr Jr. and William Fehr Sr., partners in a number of Medford and Holtsville firms, including Pavco Asphalt, Prima Asphalt and All-County Paving; John Montecalvo, head of Montecalvo Paving of Speonk; and Frank Schambra, head of Sundial Asphalt of East Setauket. Each faces mail-fraud charges for submitting allegedly rigged bids through the mail.A fifth prominent contractor, Haney, an executive with Newborn Construction in Center Moriches, was secretly arrested on similar charges last week in connection with the same investigation, court records said.In another conversation recorded by the informant, one of the arrested men said each company’s asphalt plants should be considered a single enterprise. “If we’re a team, a collective plant owner’s team, all the plants are gonna share whatever there is,” the man said.An unnamed official of the Suffolk County Department of Public Works is also under investigation, the affidavit said.The cartel members cost the taxpayers money by agreeing that one of their members would enter an artificially high bid on a contract while the others would pretend to try to get the contract while bidding even higher, the affidavit said. Each would take turns winning, sometimes giving the loser asphalt and labor subcontracts.The arrests involve the bid-rigging scheme going back as far as 2003.Haney’s attorney, Stephen Scaring of Garden City, declined to comment. Jeffrey Waller, of Hauppauge, the attorney for Fehr Jr., said his client is not guilty and intends to fight the charges. The attorney for Montecalvo, Paul Gianelli of Hauppauge, also said his client was not guilty. Attorney Joseph Conway of Mineola, representing Schambra, declined to comment. So did William Keahon of Islandia, representing Fehr Sr.The three federal prosecutors in the case, James Miskiewicz, Jonathan Green and Mark Lesko, all declined to comment.Charles Bartha, head of the Suffolk County Department of Public Works, said the county had no control over the situation if all the contractors engaged in bid-rigging. But Bartha said that any contractor found to be guilty would be “forever barred” from doing business with the county.Bartha said he could not comment about the indications that an official of the public works department was in league with the contractors because he had not yet seen the affidavit.George Hoffman, chief of staff to Brookhaven Town Supervisor John LaValle, said if contractors get together to rig bids, “we’re victims of them.”The five contractors were released on $250,000 bail each after arraignment in federal District Court in Central Islip.Staff writers Emi Endo, Sandra Peddie and Joseph Mallia contributed to this story. BY ROBERT E. KESSLERSTAFF WRITER

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