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3 indicted in 'pay-to-play' bribe scheme for WTC work

James Luckie is accused of being provided with “lavish gifts and entertainment” for preferential work and confidential information.

Three people are facing charges in a bribery

Three people are facing charges in a bribery scheme connected to work at the World Trade Center, officials said Wednesday. Photo Credit: Marisol Diaz-Gordon

A man was indicted on charges that he accepted more than $17,000 in bribes to award contracts for electrical work for the rebuilt World Trade Center from two contractors who allegedly conspired with him, state Attorney General Letitia James said Wednesday in a news release.

James Luckie, 58, of Setauket was indicted along with Paul Angerame, 59, of Manhattan and Michael Garrison, 59, of Stony Point in connection with an alleged “pay-to-play” arrangement that prosecutors said consisted of Luckie being provided with “lavish gifts and entertainment” in exchange for special favors and preferential treatment.

They were arraigned Wednesday in Manhattan before State Supreme Court Justice Maxwell Wiley and are due back in court June 10, officials said.

“These individuals were trusted with rebuilding the site of the worst terror attack in American history, but instead, allegedly squandered public funds to line their own pockets,” James said. “Not only did they trade lavish gifts for confidential information and preferential work, but they put lives at risk by hiring unqualified workers to carry out serious electrical work at the site.”

Luckie is charged with first-degree corrupting the government, second-degree bribe receiving, first-degree commercial bribe receiving and second-degree receiving reward for official misconduct, prosecutors said.

Angerame and Garrison are charged with first-degree corrupting the government, second-degree bribery, first-degree commercial bribing and second-degree rewarding official misconduct, prosecutors said.

If convicted, Luckie, Angerame and Garrison face mandatory state prison time and up to 15 years in prison, authorities said.

“Mr. Garrison has entered a plea of not guilty to these legally and factually flawed allegations,” said David Scott Smith of Garden City, Garrison’s attorney. “This case will be vigorously litigated in motions and at trial if it is not dismissed before then. Either way, we expect he will be vindicated.”

The three were released on their own recognizance, Garrison said. 

Anthony Capozzolo of Manhattan, Angerame's attorney, said his client has worked in the construction industry for 25 years "with an impeccable record" and was a recovery volunteer at the WTC site immediately after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

“In bringing this case, the attorney general’s office has wrongly decided to label lawful business practices as criminal. We intend to fight this case and litigate the issues vigorously, ” Capozzolo said.

An attorney for Luckie could not be reached for comment.  

James said Luckie, the former electrical manager at Cushman & Wakefield, a commercial real estate services company that manages the World Trade Center, received expensive sports tickets, a Florida golf trip, luxury car service on demand, golf outings, and other gifts and meals from Angerame and Garrison in exchange for preferential treatment at the WTC site.

The two towers were destroyed during the 9/11 attacks. In June 2013, the Port Authority, which owns and operates the WTC site, contracted with Cushman & Wakefield to provide management, operations, repairs and maintenance services, including electrical work, and that firm hired Hatzel & Buehler, a commercial electrical contractor, for electrical maintenance services, officials said.

Angerame and Garrison were identified by prosecutors as two former managers at Hatzel & Buehler.

“From September 2015 through June 9, 2017, Angerame and Garrison provided Luckie with at least $17,138 in unauthorized gifts and entertainment, which included: two tickets for a 2015/2016 New York Knicks 10-game ticket plan (worth $4,100), two tickets for a 2016/2017 Knicks 11-game ticket plan (worth $3,564), 2015 Mets World Series tickets with luxury car service (worth $2,823), a Florida golf trip (worth $3,850), a golf outing at Trump Ferry Point (worth $405), luxury car service on demand not connected to Hatzel & Buehler entertainment (worth $1,506),” the news release said.

Further, prosecutors said, the scheme involved the hiring, at least sometimes, of “unqualified” electricians based on those workers’ personal relationships with Luckie, Garrison, or another Hatzel & Buehler supervisor, “which led to potential safety issues and wasted Port Authority funds at the World Trade Center.”

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