MANHATTAN (CN) – Touro College’s construction manager defrauded the school of more than $2 million through bid-rigging, kickbacks and fraudulent invoices, the FBI claims. Lawrence Pesce promised a developer he would steer him a contract if the developer overbid by $1.8 million and kicked the money back to him, then had the developer inflate invoices and pay kickbacks throughout the project, federal prosecutors said.
The FBI agent’s 9-page affidavit includes colorful, and damning, transcriptions of a cooperating witness (CW-1) who was wired when he met with Pesce, allegedly, and apparently, to coordinate the payoffs.
Many of the inflated invoices were arranged through “change orders,” according to the affidavit.
In one excerpt from a wire recording, the affidavit states: “CW-1 pressed Pesce to allow Company-1 to finish the project. Pesce responded, ‘Not if I can help it. [laughs] … Like, uh, another change order. [laughs]” (Bracketed words as in affidavit.)
In another excerpt, Pesce apparently explains to CW-1 why he believed he would get away with it: “… the situation that we did with this, well, first of all, it’s a private institution. It’s non-public. … They’re not interested in this … shit. They’re interested in, you know, federal offenses and shit like that. They’re not interested in this.”
Touro College is in Lower Manhattan.