Antitrust Lawyer Blog Commentary on Current Developments

GUILTY PLEA IN BID RIGGING AND FRAUD AT NEW YORK PRESBYTERIAN HOSPITAL

On November 7, 2007, the Department of Justice announced that Mister A.C. Ltd. (Mister A.C.), a Rockville Center, N.Y. heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) services company and its owner, Michael Vignola, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Manhattan for rigging bids to NYPH from approximately 2002 until January of 2006. Mr. Vignola also pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud NYPH by paying kickbacks to NYPH employees from approximately 2001 until January 2006.

According to the charges, Mr. Vignola frustrated NYPH’s competitive bid process by conspiring to rig more than $1 million worth of contracts awarded by NYPH. Mr. Vignola also paid more than $130,000 in kickbacks, to NYPH purchasing officials for their assistance in obtaining work. The kickbacks were given in the form of cash, services, and gifts, such as a jet ski and trailer, a motorcycle, consumer electronics, and free trips.

The bid-rigging conspiracy that Mr. Vignola faces carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a $1 million fine for an individual. The fraud conspiracy that Mr. Vignola is charged with carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine. The fines may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by the victims of the crime, if either of those amounts is greater than the statutory maximum fine.

In April 2007, as part of the same investigation, Michael Theodorobeakos and two maintenance and insulation companies he co-owned – Monosis Inc. and STU Associates Inc. – pleaded guilty to conspiring to rig bids on the supply of maintenance and insulation services to NYPH and Mount Sinai Medical Center (Mt. Sinai). As part of that conspiracy, Mr. Theodorobeakos and his co-conspirators attempted to create the appearance that NYPH and Mount Sinai were awarding contracts based on competitive bids, when, in fact, they frequently were not.


Andre Barlow

(202) 589-1834
abarlow@dbmlawgroup.com