Three former city Department of Environmental Protection employees were arrested Thursday for allegedly being lavished with gifts totaling more than $175,000 to ensure contracts kept flowing to a Texas water company.
The men -- Dennis Jones, 48, of Long Island City; Thomas Bentsen, 51, of Oceanside, New York; and Bhaskar Sil, 69, of Deltona, Florida -- are accused of accepting Yankees tickets, cellphones and a laptop, Montauk fishing trips, and money to cover expenses during a Las Vegas vacation between 1998 and 2012, according to the city Department of Investigation.
Flo Trend vice president Carl Russell Caughman, 62, was charged last week with bribery and unlawful gratuities; the company Thursday was charged on those counts as well. Attorney information for the DEP workers was not immediately available.
DOI Commissioner Mark Peters said the alleged scheme "benefited everyone but the city and defrauded the taxpayers of tens of thousands of dollars."
Flo Trend had about a half dozen contracts worth more than $14 million with the DEP to maintain, repair and supply waste holding containers for water treatment. Jones and Sil were responsible for approving purchase orders, contract specifications and evaluating performance; Bentsen supervised them and allegedly knew of the bribes, according to the DOI.
The three men pleaded not guilty. Flo Trend declined to comment and its attorney did not return a request for a statement.