Tuesday, March 13, 2012

East Chicago School Treasurer To Plead Guilty To Bribery Charges

The former treasurer for the East Chicago public school system, Francisco Ramirez, has agreed to plead guilty to charges of taking bribes from a building contractor in exchange for awarding construction contracts to a company owned by Geraldo Lozano just days after the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Indiana announced those charges. The Northwest Indiana Times has the particulars:

Lozano, who owned Green Tree Builders, is charged with paying a bribe to an agent or local government receiving federal funds, while Ramirez was charged with receiving that bribe. In 2008, East Chicago's schools received more than $10,000 in federal funding.
That same year, Ramirez hired Green Tree Builders to perform landscaping work at East Chicago's high school in preparation for a political candidate's arrival for a speaking engagement, according to court records.
After the project, Ramirez spoke to Lozano about additional work with the school as a trade-off for doing home improvements on Ramirez's home, records state.
"We also agreed that he could inflate the bills to cover his costs," Ramirez said in the plea agreement.
Lozano allegedly performed a slew of services at the home, including cleaning the deck, installing insulation in the attic, tearing out the concrete driveway and pouring a new one, renovating the kitchen and installing a tile floor.
While Ramirez paid for patio pavers and some kitchen materials, he said Lozano provided the other services and materials in exchange for the school jobs . . .
Green Tree Builders received about $173,000 in authorized payments from the school district through Ramirez between May 2008 and November 2008, records state. Ramirez obtained benefits of between $5,000 and $10,000 from the scheme, according to the plea agreement.
The story notes that Lozano also performed construction work for the city of East Chicago during the tenure of its former mayor, George Pabey, who was convicted of charges he used city workers to perform remodeling work on a home he owned and charging the city for materials used in that home. Lozano also appeared as a witness in Pabey's criminal trial. Prosecutors said they would recommend a lighter sentence for Ramirez because of his agreement to cooperate with the government. The charge against him carried a maximum prison sentence of ten years.

1 comment:

fciha7 said...

Sounds exactly like what the Wayne Township Schools in Indy were doing with Lawrence Construction.