Gov't: Official billed $1.2M for no work on Deutsche Bank

The Associated Press

NEW YORK — A construction official falsely billed $1.2 million for supplies not delivered to clean up a toxic ground zero skyscraper in exchange for cash, clothes and trips to the Caribbean, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Robert Chiarappa was the purchasing agent for the John Galt Corp., which was hired to clean up the former Deutsche Bank tower after it was heavily damaged in the 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center across the street.

Prosecutors said Chiarappa told companies to submit phony bills for plastic sheeting, safety equipment, gloves and protective clothing; he signed off on the invoices and used his take of the payments to pay credit card bills, lease luxury automobiles and take a vacation in the Turks and Caicos islands, prosecutors said.

Chiarappa pleaded not guilty to six counts of grand larceny at his arraignment Tuesday and was held on $100,000 bail.

His attorney, David Wikstrom, called a prosecutor's request for higher bail excessive, saying Chiarappa had been aware of the case against him for months and hadn't left town. Wikstrom declined to comment as he left court.

Chiarappa, 45, of Brooklyn, faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

The company he worked for was fired from the cleanup job and later indicted on manslaughter charges for a 2007 fire that killed two firefighters at the skyscraper. The criminal investigation of the fire uncovered evidence of the theft, the Manhattan district attorney's office said.

The Lower Manhattan Development Corp., the state rebuilding agency that owns the building, were billed for about half of the fake invoices, prosecutors said. Arch Insurance Group, Galt's bonding company, took over the payments when the contractor was fired.

The LMDC said it had "cooperated fully" in the investigation.

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