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Dozens Of Contractors Indicted For Allegedly Rigging Bids, Stealing Millions From Developers


Twenty-four construction executives and 26 contracting companies were indicted Wednesday as part of an investigation into an alleged bid-rigging and kickback scheme that bilked New York developers of more than $5M.

The 83-count indictment charge was filed in New York County Supreme Court Wednesday, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, New York City Department of Investigation Commissioner Jocelyn Strauber and NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell announced in a joint statement.

The scheme, led by Robert Baselice, who did business as Robert Basilice, a vice president of Secaucus, New Jersey-based The Rinaldi Group, corrupted the competitive bidding process for scores of contracts and ran for more than eight years, according to the indictment.

Baselice would work with subcontractors run by Louis Astuto, Paul Noto and Frank Camuso for services like drywall, masonry, design and carpentry, and Baselice conspired to ensure their bids were higher than the cost of a project and take the difference in profits for himself and his associates, prosecutors claimed in a statement of facts released with the indictment.

Baselice would even make a show of “strong-arming” the conspiring subcontractors to lower their prices, prosecutors said. The theft ran from April 2013 through July 2021, and more than $100M in construction contracts were allegedly steered to conspiring subcontractors as part of the scheme.  

The defendants worked at developments including 11 Stone St., where Premier Emerald developed the Fidi Hotel, as well as The Hilton Club at 12 East 48th St. and the Central at 5th New York, the citizenM Bowery Hotel at 189 Bowery and Savanna’s office building the Six at 106 West 56th St., according to court documents.

“When the bidding process is rigged, we all lose,” Bragg said in a statement. “The market suffers from a lack of quality competition, developers are prevented from hiring the best companies at fair prices, and — importantly — honest, law-abiding companies are pushed out by those that broke the law."

Last month, ex-construction union boss James Cahill pleaded guilty to taking bribes and illegal cash payments after being accused of accepting around $44.5K in bribes from an unnamed contractor. Cahill and 10 other union officials entered guilty pleas in the scheme, which prosecutors say reveals a “shocking” level of corruption among labor officials.

In Baselice and his associates' case, the defendants are facing varying charges that include grand larceny, commercial bribing and money laundering. They all pleaded not guilty Wednesday, The New York Times reported. Susan Necheles, an attorney for two of the defendants, told the Times that, other than Baselice, the other defendants in the case seem "to be basically a victim of extortion.”

Louis Gelormino, Baselice's lawyer, told the Times in a statement that his client “completely denies these allegations and expects to be fully vindicated of all the charges brought against him.”