Touro construction project manager charged in alleged $2M fraud scheme

June 22, 2010 04:15PM

A construction manager for a Touro College development project has been arrested and charged on allegations that he accepted more than $2 million in kickbacks from a developer, according to an announcement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. Lawrence Pesce, whom Touro hired to oversee its construction project, allegedly accepted payments from an unnamed developer in exchange for ensuring the developer would receive the Touro construction contract, prosecutors said. Pesce allegedly orchestrated a bogus bidding process for the project at 230 West 125th Street by colluding with the developer to overbid on the project and then provide phony submissions from fake construction firms that stated estimates exceeding the developer’s offer. The developer’s $10.9 million estimate was eventually accepted, and investigators said Pesce pocketed $1.8 million for his part in the scheme. During the two-year project, officials say Pesce pushed the developer to submit falsely inflated work invoices, from which he received additional cash. The developer in the scheme ultimately became an informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, helping unravel the fraud. Pesce has been formally charged with one count of wire fraud. If convicted he could spend 30 years behind bars. TRD