Friday, December 16, 2005

Exposed: Map of Ground Zero spoils: Where the money went to clear Trade Center debris

Within days of the 9/11 attacks, the city divided debris removal work around Ground Zero into quadrants. Four construction managers were hired.

Almost immediately, the city issued $10 million retainer checks to each of the Big Four: AMEC Construction, Bovis Lend Lease, Tully Construction and Turner Construction.

Agreements between the city and the Big Four, as well as with subcontractors, were handled on a pay-as-you-go basis. Without competitive bidding, the four managers picked whomever they wanted to get the job done.

Of the $458 million in federal 9/11 aid spent on debris removal, AMEC got $65.8 million, Bovis $277.2 million, Tully $76 million and Turner $39 million.

The city also spent money to potentially save money, hiring four anti-corruption monitors to ferret out fraud. Usually companies swallow the costs of such preventive medicine, but in this case, taxpayers footed the bill.

"Everybody was worrying about all the money pouring into this thing," a city official recalled.

Thacher Associates, Stier Anderson, Design Strategies and Getnick & Getnick were hired as monitors. In many cases, they discovered fraud and prevented losses. In other cases, investigators say, the mob and corrupt contractors raided the 9/11 money pot.


When London-based AMEC Construction showed up at Ground Zero as one of the Big Four hired to run the cleanup job, the firm's U.S. subsidiary already was ensnared in government corruption probes in Missouri and California. AMEC still got the 9/11 job.

AMEC's No. 1 guy on the ground was Vice President Leo DiRubbo, a reputed associate of the Luchese crime family. At Ground Zero, it was DiRubbo's responsibility on behalf of the Luchese crime family "to ensure labor peace between organized crime and contractors," according to investigators' reports obtained by The News.

AMEC spokeswoman Lauren Gallagher said DiRubbo doesn't work for the company anymore and that AMEC was unaware of the allegations contained in the reports.


AMEC hired Big Apple Wrecking, owned by Harold Greenberg, a reputed mob associate whose firm was barred from government work because of his convictions in bid-rigging and bribery conspiracies. Weeks into the cleanup, Thacher Associates realized Greenberg was on-site and kicked Big Apple off the job, though the firm still collected $203,000. It didn't end there. Safeway Environmental, a firm that investigators allege was controlled by Greenberg, was still at Ground Zero.

Safeway got $3.7 million for asbestos and mold removal, and another $3 million to help clean up a severely damaged office tower at 130 Liberty St.

Aware of Greenberg's involvement with Safeway, the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. came up with an unusual arrangement — Safeway could stay, as long as Greenberg didn't benefit financially.

Stefan Pryor, LMDC president, said the agency wanted "to ensure [Greenberg] has no role. ... It is a massive project and Safeway has a small piece of that." He emphasized, "The city had not found that the company was irresponsible. The problem was with Greenberg."

Still, sources say, Safeway leased its equipment from Greenberg, rented office space from Greenberg, owed Greenberg a loan. Greenberg also was a Safeway consultant on several jobs.

Greenberg did not return calls seeking comment. Safeway denies the alleged ties to the mob.


AMEC also hired Mazzocchi Wrecking. A few months after 9/11, the N.J. Division of Gaming Enforcement charged that three members of the DeCavalcante crime family worked for Mazzocchi.

The city Department of Investigation determined Mazzocchi "had potentially overbilled the city" for Ground Zero work. The DOI forwarded the information to the city Department of Design and Construction but the probe was closed without prosecution. Mazzocchi, which denies mob ties, earned a total of $16 million from two of the major contractors.

Owner Grace Mazzocchi said she was unaware of the three employees' alleged mob ties and noted that they no longer worked there. She also said the DOI investigation stemmed from a money dispute and that Mazzocchi was underpaid for its Ground Zero work.


Civetta won a $1.2 million contract at Ground Zero, and Yonkers won three deals worth $14.5 million. Not long afterward, prosecutors alleged both firms had for years been making regular payments to corrupt officials of Local 15 of the Operating Engineers — a local that prosecutors say long has been infiltrated by the Colombo crime family. Both firms deny mob involvement and have not been charged with wrongdoing.


In the middle of the 9/11 job, owners of the AMEC-hired subcontractor Peter Scalamandre & Sons, of Freeport, pleaded guilty to laundering $1 million through subcontractors. Prosecutors charged that some cash wound up in the hands of the Luchese crime family.

Scalamandre was kicked off the job and was paid $2.8 million.


AMEC hired Breeze National, a Brooklyn demolition firm owned by Toby Romano, a reputed Luchese family associate convicted in 1988 of bribing inspectors to overlook health violations on asbestos-removal jobs. Breeze earned $3.9 million.


Turner Construction hired Seasons Contracting, owned by Salvatore Carucci, a reputed Luchese associate who was indicted in 1995 on charges of using a bogus minority-owned business to illegally win government work. Charges were later dismissed because of a flawed indictment. Seasons was paid $26.7 million.


The firm is barred from doing city and federal work, and its president was indicted last December for payoffs to mob-infiltrated union locals. Laquila was paid $125,000.


Luchese associate Allen Monchik was a consultant to this firm, which won a small, $95,250 city contract to clean up asbestos on the streets and sidewalks around Ground Zero. A principal of the company has been indicted in a 9/11 ghost-employee scheme.


A firm tied to Monchik won a $3 million Port Authority contract to clean off WTC artifacts. Prosecutors allege the firm charged taxpayers for ghost employees, materials not used and work not performed.


Gambino associate Noel Modica negotiated a "loan" for Termon from Monchik, according to investigators' documents. Termon was paid $2.2 million to clean asbestos from Battery Park City. Termon has not been charged with wrongdoing.


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