Three corrupt contractors got the maximum sentence yesterday for stealing taxpayer money while "working" to set up the infamous Bloomberg-era automated payroll system known as CityTime. You'll recall that the project was initially estimated to cost $63 million, but eventually ballooned to $700 million, thanks to those little extras like kickbacks and bribes. The scam's mastermind, Mark Mazer, is said to have raked in a whopping $30 million in kickbacks.
Calling the convictions "a classic tale of greed and corruption," U.S. District Judge George B. Daniel sentenced Mazer, his uncle Dimitry Aronshtein, and Gerard Denault to the maximum prison time for each count, but ordered the sentences to be served concurrently. Hence each will spend 20 years in prison for their role in the scam, which involved extensive wire fraud and money laundering through bank accounts overseas.
When Mazer, 50, was arrested in 2010, investigators discovered hundreds of thousands of dollars stashed in safe-deposit boxes around the city. He was convicted last year of wire fraud, bribery, money laundering, and other charges. Denault, who worked as program manager for Science Applications International Corp. [SAIC], was convicted of similar charges. Aronshtein, a Long Island-based subcontractor for CityTime, was convicted of bribery charges and conspiracy to violate the federal Travel Act.
Prosecutors said Mazer and his co-conspirators "treated the city like their own giant ATM machine." SAIC has since paid back $500 million to the city through a deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and $40 million in cash was also seized or frozen from more than 130 bank accounts. In addition, the three men sentenced yesterday are required to forfeit $47 million in assets to the government.
"Today’s sentencing shows these one-time City vendors for what they are: common crooks who pocketed public funds," DOI Commissioner Mark G. Peters said following yesterday's sentencing. Just before the sentence was handed down, Aronshtein told the judge, "I feel like the biggest loser in the world to put my wife and family in this situation."