☷Stoneham Police Officer and Electrical Contractor Indicted in $36 Million Fraud Scheme Involving Mass Save Funds
Federal Bureau of Investigation ( By Press Release office)
| 34| 2
Stoneham Police Officer and Electrical Contractor Indicted in $36 Million Fraud Scheme Involving Mass Save Funds Defendants allegedly defrauded a company to obtain tens of millions of dollars of Mass Save funds by paying bribes and kickbacks to a company employee BOSTON – A Stoneham Police Officer and his brother , an owner of an electrical contracting company , have been indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly paying a Mass Save vendor company employee tens of thousands of dollars in weekly cash bribes , kickbacks and other in - kind benefits – including a John Deere tractor , a computer , home bathroom fixtures and free electrical work , among other things – in exchange for the procurement of over $36 million in Mass Save contracts with the vendor company . Joseph Ponzo , 48 , of Stoneham , and Christopher Ponzo , 47 , of North Reading , were indicted on one count of wire fraud conspiracy and 12 counts of wire fraud . The defendants were arrested this morning and will appear in federal court in Boston at noon today . According to the indictment , Joseph Ponzo , a full - time Stoneham Police Officer , and his brother , Christopher Ponzo , an owner of an electrical contracting company , conspired to bribe an associate employed by a Mass Save lead vendor company ( Company A ) in exchange for the associate’s assistance in procuring Mass Save contracts that netted the Ponzos millions of dollars in Mass Save contracts . Specifically , from 2013 to 2017 , the Ponzos allegedly paid the associate tens of thousands of dollars in cash bribes , kickbacks and other in - kind benefits . According to the indictment , from 2013 to 2017 , Christopher Ponzo paid the associate $1 , 000 in cash on a weekly basis . At times , Christopher Ponzo allegedly paid the associate $5 , 000 to $10 , 000 in cash , telling the associate that the extra money was from Joseph Ponzo for his part in the bribery scheme . In return for these payments , it is alleged that the associate , among other things: helped the Ponzos create companies; assisted in gaining approval for the companies to serve as Mass Save contractors for Company A; assisted in obtaining Mass Save projects for the Ponzo’s companies; and helped the Ponzo’s receive payments from Company A for completed projects . As a result of the scheme , Christopher Ponzo and Joseph Ponzo allegedly collected approximately $29 million and $7 million in fraudulently obtained Mass Save funds , respectively . In one such instance , according to the indictment , the associate helped Joseph Ponzo set up a company , Air Tight , to do insulation work and get approved as a Company A contractor under the Mass Save program . Joseph Ponzo put his spouse’s name on Air Tight incorporation documents and contracting licenses in order to conceal his involvement in his corrupt side business . It is alleged Joseph Ponzo collected millions of funds under the Mass Save program through this contract , despite having no professional experience in residential insulation work . “Virtually every Massachusetts resident who uses energy is surcharged and pays for Mass Save . These payments are mandatory and amount to hundreds of millions of dollars . Defrauding the Mass Save program for millions of dollars means we are all left paying the bill , ” said United States Attorney Rachael S . Rollins . “As we allege , these defendants , motivated by greed , orchestrated a corrupt scheme to line their pockets with money fraudulently obtained from honest paying energy consumers . These bad actors allegedly took advantage of funds set aside for energy - efficiency projects for their own personal financial gain and , moreover , did so through illegal , preferential treatment . It is corruption at its core and will not be tolerated . ”“Every year , Massachusetts homeowners shell out hundreds of millions of dollars to fund energy conservation projects for consumers—and today we arrested Joseph and Christopher Ponzo for allegedly cheating them by paying a steady stream of bribes and kickbacks to an insider who steered contracts their way , ” said Joseph Bonavolonta , Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Boston . “These brothers allegedly raked in millions of dollars and are now accused of going to great lengths to conceal their bold and brazen scheme . We have said this before , and it merits repeating . If you are a victim of , or witness to a public corruption scheme , it’s never too late to do the right thing . The FBI is here , we are doing our job , and we want to hear from you . ”“Mass Save is all about providing consumers , who qualify in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts , with low or no - cost energy - efficiency projects for their homes , ” said Joleen D . Simpson , Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigations in Boston . “The fact that a member of law enforcement who pledged an oath to protect the community allegedly abused this program as a get - rich scheme is particularly reprehensible . Today’s indictment begins the path to ensuring integrity in this program and should serve as a clear warning to those who are attempting to defraud it . ”Massachusetts law requires utility companies to collect an energy efficiency surcharge on all Massachusetts energy consumers . These funds , which amount to hundreds of millions of dollars each year , are to be disbursed by the utility companies to fund energy efficiency programs and initiatives in Massachusetts . Mass Save is a Massachusetts public - private partnership sponsored by various gas and electric utility companies that disburses these energy efficiency funds by funding energy conservation projects for consumers . Under the Mass Save program , utility companies select lead vendors to approve and select contractors to perform energy improvement work for residential customers . This contracting work – performed at no - cost or reduced cost to the customer – is then paid for by the lead vendors with Mass Save funds . The charges of wire fraud conspiracy and wire fraud each provide for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison , up to three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250 , 000 . Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U . S . Sentencing Guidelines and statutes which govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case . U . S . Attorney Rollins , FBI SAC Bonavolonta and IRS SAC Simpson made the announcement today . Assistant U . S . Attorneys Elysa Wan and Dustin Chao of Rollins’ Criminal Division are prosecuting the case . The details contained in the indictment are allegations . The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law .
PLAY the NEWS
* May be useful for visually impaired persons .
Press release information:
Direct link to press release
: Click here .