MANHATTAN (CN) – A high-ranking official for New York City’s Chief Medical Examiner was sentenced to 15 years in prison for conspiring to steal millions of dollars from FEMA after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, aided by his assistant.
Natarajan Venkataram, director of management information systems for the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, pleaded guilty to conspiracy, embezzlement, misapplication of funds and money laundering. His assistant, Rosa Abreu, the OCME’s director of records, also has pleaded guilty to those charges. They supervised computer systems used to track records and evidence from crime scenes.
Venkataram steered more than $13 million in OCEM contracts and purchase orders to three companies run by an unidentified co-conspirator (CC-1), and tipped the company how much to bid to win contracts. That company did no work at all or less work than reported under the contracts, federal prosecutors said. The company helped Venkataram and Abreu funnel millions of dollars into three shell companies – A&D Marketing Corp., Trade A2Z Inc., and Infodata Associates – “none of which had any employees or conducted any legitimate business,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Venkataram also had CC-1 send more than $1 million to his friends, and send him blank checks to use as he liked. And he had CC-1 send more than $6 million, paid to OCME, to one of his own companies in Hyderabad, India, for his own benefit.
U.S. District Judge Robert Patterson also ordered Venkataram to forfeit $3 million.
Abreu faces up to 75 years in prison at her sentencing, at a date yet to be set.