By Gregory B. Hladky
4:57 PM EDT, June 18, 2012
An official of a North Haven-based contracting company has been sentenced to 18 months in federal prison and ordered to pay $90,000 in restitution for his part in a multi-state fraud scheme.
Boris A. Tomicic of West Hartford was found guilty last November of one count of wire fraud in a complex deal involving the company he works for, Earth Technology Inc., and its owner, Frank Ruocco.
Both Ruocco and his firm were found not guilty of charges in the same case that included fraud, conspiracy, money laundering and conspiracy.
Ruocco and Earth Technology Inc. (ETI) have been the focus of state and federal civil and criminal investigations for at least a decade.
Most of those probes concerned tens of millions of dollars in state and federal environmental clean-up contracts. Ruocco has consistently denied any wrongdoing and Connecticut officials have allowed his company to continue to work for the state because he’s never been found guilty of any contracting crime.
Over one recent six-year period, the state paid Ruocco’s company more than $28 million for work on a variety of projects.
This isn’t the first time someone associated with Ruocco’s businesses has been found guilty of fraud charges.
In 2006, the head of Earth Technology II pleaded guilty to inflating clean-up costs for work at a federal superfund site in Derby. This company paid a $500,000 fine, but Ruocco was never charged. He’d sold his interest in Earth Technology II not long before the guilty plea was entered.
Tomicic’s case involved a project to develop a high-end shopping mall site in Queens, New York. Tomicic was Earth Technology Inc.’s project manager for work to remove contaminated soil from the mall’s location.
Federal prosecutors say ETI sent the toxic dirt to a New Jersey disposal facility, but routed the bills for the work through a front company Ruocco and Tomicic set up in Massachusetts. That company, Recycle Technology LLC, tacked on some charges and sent the bills to Ruocco’s company headquarters in North Haven, which then added even more fees before asking the mall developer for payment.
Along this convoluted path, the cost of disposing of that contaminated dirt jumped from $127.50 per ton to $250.70 per ton, earning ETI hundreds of thousands in extra profit, according to the prosecutors.
The guy in charge of Ruocco’s alleged Massachusetts front company, William McCambridge, plead guilty back in 2009 to a federal conspiracy charge in connection with this case.
But Ruocco’s attorney’s, including former Chief State’s Attorney Austin J. McGuigan, insisted there was no fraud, that ETI was simply carrying out hurry-up orders from the developer to get rid of 30,000 tons of contaminated dirt.
Back in 2004, the Connecticut Attorney General’s Office alleged Ruocco’s company used a similar scheme to inflate charges for removing contaminated soil from a state Department of Transportation project site – charges Ruocco flatly denied.
An interim report on the attorney general’s investigation accused Ruocco of doing tens of thousands of dollars worth of work at the homes of state Department of Environmental Protection officials to in “sweetheart” deals that got his company additional state work. Ruocco also denied those allegations.
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