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prior month. Police officer indicted in multimillion-dollar MassSave scam

prior month.  Police officer indicted in multimillion-dollar MassSave scam

A former Massachusetts police officer and his brother were indicted on several additional charges in connection with an alleged Mass Save bribery and kickback that was estimated to be in the tens of millions of dollars for the pair.

In federal court on Thursday, former Stoneham police officer Joseph Ponzo, 49, and his brother Christopher Ponzo, 48, of North Reading, were indicted on 12 additional wire fraud counts alleging that the Ponzo brothers received bribes The scheme continued till recently after 2017. In March 2022, Ponzos paid thousands of dollars in cash bribes to another former employee of a Mass Save lead vendor company to obtain millions of dollars in lucrative Mass Save contracts, according to the Massachusetts US Attorney’s Office.

Joseph Ponzo was also included in a list of 15 Massachusetts police officers suspended earlier in January by the Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission.

The most recent indictment also charges Joseph Ponzo with four counts of filing false tax returns with the IRS from 2016 to 2019. Joseph Ponzo and Christopher Ponzo were also charged with making false statements to government officials, officials said.

The Ponzo brothers are expected to be indicted on these additional charges at a later date.

Thursday’s charges come months after a federal grand jury originally charged her in April 2022 with one count of wire fraud conspiracy and 12 counts of wire fraud stemming from a bribe-kickback scheme with a Mass Save vendor from 2013 to 2017. have come later. Prosecutors allege that the Ponzo brothers made approximately $36 million from their fraud scheme from 2013 to 2017 alone.

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Prosecutors allege that Joseph Ponzo, who owns an electrical contracting company, conspired with his brother to bribe several associates employed by the Mass Save Lead Vendor Company in exchange for the associates’ assistance in obtaining mass savings contracts, which Gave millions of dollars to massive Ponzos. Save the contracts, officials said.

Under Massachusetts law, utility companies are required to collect an energy efficiency tax on all Massachusetts energy consumers. These funds, amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars each year, are distributed by utility companies to fund energy efficiency programs and initiatives in Massachusetts.

MassSave is a Massachusetts public-private partnership sponsored by various gas and electric utility companies that distributes these energy efficiency funds through funding energy conservation projects for consumers, according to the US Attorney of Massachusetts.

Under the Mass Save program, utility companies select key vendors to approve and select contractors to perform energy improvement work for residential customers. This contract work โ€“ performed by contractors at no or little cost to the customer โ€“ is then paid for by the principal vendor with Mass Save funds.

Authorities believe that with the assistance of accomplices employed by the Mass Save vendor, the Ponzo brothers defrauded millions from an energy efficiency tax used to fund efficiency programs and initiatives in Massachusetts.

Authorities claim that from 2013 to 2017, Ponzo allegedly paid tens of thousands of dollars in cash bribes, kickbacks and other forms of benefits to a Mass Save vendor associate, with Christopher Ponzo giving the associate $1,000 in cash on a weekly basis. paid to. Authorities said that at times, Christopher Ponzo allegedly paid associates $5,000 to $10,000 in cash, stating that the additional money belonged to Joseph Ponzo for his part in the bribery scheme.

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Authorities allege that the aides helped the Pozos form companies, assisted in obtaining approval for the companies to work as Mass Save contractors for an undisclosed company, obtained Mass Save projects for the Pozos’ companies. Assisted in and helped Ponzos get payment from the company for the completed project. As a result of this scheme, Christopher Ponzo and Joseph Ponzo, respectively, allegedly amassed approximately $39 million in fraudulently obtained massive savings funds.

According to the indictment, in one such instance, the associate helped Joseph Ponzo set up a company, Air Tight, to do insulation work and be approved as a contractor under the Mass Save program, officials said.

Joseph Ponzo used his spouse’s name on airtight incorporation documents and contract licenses to conceal his involvement in his corrupt side business and laundered millions under the Mass Save program through this contract despite having no professional experience in residential insulation work. Collected funds of Rs. Told.

According to Mass Save officials, after Associate 1 left Company A in 2017, Christopher Ponzo and Joseph Ponzo allegedly recruited Associate 2 from 2018 to 2022 in a bribery-kickback scheme. Paying Associate 2 thousands of dollars in cash and hiring a relative of Associate 2 as part of an ongoing scheme.

During the bribe-kickback scheme, Joseph Ponzo is also accused of filing false tax returns from 2016 to 2019 by falsely claiming hundreds of thousands of dollars in business deductions. Authorities believe this was an attempt to disguise personal expenses as business deductions.

“Ponzo used his company credit cards to make hundreds of thousands of dollars in purchases at Home Depot, Lowe’s and Staples, claiming to his tax preparers that the charges at those establishments were business-related,” the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney’s Office said. wrote a statement.

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Prosecutors alleged that Joseph Ponzo had, in fact, used company credit cards at those stores to purchase gift cards that caused him and his wife thousands of dollars in personal spending.

The superseding indictment also alleges that in April 2022, both Joseph and Christopher Ponzo denied paying bribes to any Company A employees when interviewed by federal agents.

โ€œAlmost every Massachusetts resident who uses energy is overloaded and pays for Mass Save. These payments are mandatory and amount to hundreds of millions of dollars. Cheating the Collective Savings Program of millions of dollars means we All are left paying the bill,” United States Attorney Rachel S. Rollins said. “As we allege, these defendants, driven by greed, hatched a corrupt scheme to line their pockets with money fraudulently obtained from honestly paying energy consumers. These bad actors allegedly committed their own took advantage of funds earmarked for energy-efficiency projects for personal financial gain and, moreover, did so through illegal, preferential treatment. Corruption is at its core and will not be tolerated.”

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