Public employees in New York City and surrounding municipalities have access to enormous amounts of money. The temptation to help themselves to some of this money must at times seem overwhelming. The Justice Department recently announced a guilty plea involving an employee of the Metropolitan Transportation Agency (MTA) who had been charged with fraud in the bidding on excess vehicles owned by the MTA.
The allegations of fraud
According to the Justice Department announcement, the fraud involved the MTA’s plan to sell numerous excess vehicles through the competitive bidding process. The defendant and several other individuals obtained access to the MTA’s confidential pricing information contrary to the MTA’s rules. The defendants then used this information to rig the bidding process to ensure that the bids submitted by a corporation that they controlled were always the highest for any given vehicle.
The plea agreement
The principal defendant pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud conspiracy, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a possible $250,000 fine. The fine may be increased to twice the gain that the defendants received from the crime or twice the loss that the victims suffered. The court said that it will announce sentences after it has reviewed the applicable federal sentencing guidelines.
Wire fraud is any crime involving fraudulent conduct that is committed using interstate telephone or telegraph services.
Getting solid legal advice
As the potential penalties make clear, the defendants in this case were facing serious criminal charges that entail severe penalties if they were to be convicted. Anyone facing similar charges would be well advised to consult an attorney who is knowledgeable about federal crimes and the plea negotiation process.