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7 Years For Post-Sept. 11 Fraud

MANHATTAN (CN) - In a case of Sept. 11 fraud, an employee in the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for New York City was sentenced to 70 months in prison for helping to steal millions dollars in emergency funds from FEMA. Rosa Abreu helped her boss, Nataranja Venkataram, director of management information systems, steer bids to a co-conspirator's company. All three have pleaded guilty.

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner desperately needed more computer services to identify, analyze and track the remains of Sept. 11 victims. Many of its expenses were reimbursed by FEMA, which sent $46 million to the OCME in the next 2 years.

Venkataram steered more than $13 million in OCME contracts to three companies run by co-conspirator Muhammad Naseh. He tipped Naseh on how much to bid, had him submit bogus competing bids from his three companies, and paid him for less work than he reported, and sometimes for no work at all, the U.S. Attorney's Office said. Abreu helped Venkataram launder the money.

Abreu, 41, of Queens, also must pay $1.4 million in restitution.

Venkataram was sentenced in July to 15 years in prison and ordered to pay $3 million in restitution.

Naseh pleaded guilty to embezzlement, money laundering and bribery and is awaiting sentencing.

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