Former Bloomberg employee pleads not guilty in construction kickback scheme

Posted at 6:51 PM, Dec 11, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-11 20:51:01-05

A former Bloomberg LP executive pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges he masterminded a $15 million bid-rigging and commercial bribery scheme.

Anthony Guzzone, 49, was charged by prosecutors in Manhattan with multiple crimes including conspiracy, grand larceny, money laundering and commercial bribery connected to construction work done at the offices of the financial and media company at 120 Park Avenue and 919 Third Avenue. Guzzone was Bloomberg’s head of global construction.

According to prosecutors, inside information was passed along to subcontractors to help them secure bids for construction projects. The alleged scheme laid out by the prosecutor involved the alleged production of false documents, including fake invoices and purchase orders that were designed to inflate budgets, and a falsified application for status as a Women’s Business Enterprise to help secure bids.

“He orchestrated almost this entire scheme to steal from his employer at every and any opportunity that presented itself,” Assistant District Attorney Christopher Beard said of Guzzone.

Bloomberg owner and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is considering running for president as a Democrat in 2020, was not aware of the scheme, company officials said.

“This sends a strong message to contractors in New York who engage in fraud: You will be caught,” Bloomberg spokesman Ty Trippet said in a statement.

Guzzone was charged alongside two other former Bloomberg employees and 11 others, who all pleaded not guilty. All the defendants turned themselves in to authorities on Tuesday morning.

Beard said Guzzone and others created an electric company to do work inside the Bloomberg buildings and won $240 million worth of contracts.

Guzzone, who Beard said was the silent owner of the company, provided inside information from Bloomberg to the electric company and its executives so that they would win bids.

The former executives who helped carry out the alleged scheme were then given kickbacks including cash, vacations and home renovations, prosecutors said. And Guzzone, who lives in New Jersey, received stainless steel appliances and ironwork for his gates in exchange for his trouble.

“He basically built himself, quite frankly, a palace up in New Jersey. All of it from money stolen from Bloomberg,” Beard said.

Guzzone’s attorney, Alex Spiro, firmly denied the charges. He said Guzzone’s identification as a silent owner is nothing more than a “fantasy” and that prosecutors got bad information from cooperators.

“It’s informants that they have charged with fraud,” Spiro said. “It’s informants that … are alcoholics, that are proven liars. That’s their evidence.”

More than a dozen individuals — including one other former Bloomberg employee — have entered guilty pleas and paid about $5.5 million in restitution.

“Today’s indictment and guilty pleas demonstrate that if you are engaged in organized crime that blocks fair competition in Manhattan, our prosecutors will find you, turn over every stone and shut you down,” Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said in a statement.