New York construction bosses face 20 years in prison for union fraud

©GCR, illustration by Denis Carrier
Three executives at New York company Navillus Contracting face up to 20 years in jail after being found guilty of defrauding unions out of more than $1m in employee benefits.

Donal O’Sullivan, 60, his sister Helen, 61, and the company’s financial comptroller, Padraig Naughton, 49, were convicted on Friday following a three-week trial. Helen O’Sullivan was the company’s payroll administrator.

The three were found guilty of 11 counts of wire fraud, mail fraud, embezzlement from employee benefits funds, submission of false remittance reports to union benefits funds and conspiracy to commit those crimes.

Breon Peace, US attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said in a press statement: “As found by the jury, the defendants deliberately devised a fraudulent scheme to avoid making required contributions to union benefits funds on behalf of Navillus’ workers, in order to deprive the workers of benefits they had earned and deserved.”

Navillus is one of New York’s biggest construction companies, specialising in concrete, masonry, tile, stone and carpentry work. It was founded more than 30 years ago by Donal, Kevin, Helen and Leonard O’Sullivan from Ballinskelligs, Co Kerry.

It has been involved in several high-profile projects in New York City, including the 9/11 memorial and museum.

Prosecutors said the three executives used a consulting firm to pay workers without making contributions to the union benefit funds used to provide health, pension and vacation funds to workers, as required by collective bargaining agreements. The fraud was carried out between 2011 and 2017.

The US Department of Justice statement added: “To conceal the scheme from benefits fund auditors, the defendants caused the consulting company to issue fraudulent invoices to disguise the fact that the funds Navillus had issued to the consulting firm were made to reimburse the consulting company for the wages the consulting company had paid to Navillus workers.”

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