Rinaldi exec accused of kickback scheme to fleece developers

Robert Baselice, others allegedly took bribes to steer contracts worth $100M: DA

Rinaldi Group’s Robert Baselice (Getty, LinkedIn/Robert Baselice)
Rinaldi Group’s Robert Baselice (Getty, LinkedIn/Robert Baselice)

A Rinaldi Group executive stole at least $5 million from seven developers in a construction kickback scheme that spanned nearly a decade, prosecutors alleged Wednesday.

Robert Baselice, a vice president at the construction management firm, was indicted on bribery and other charges stemming from a scheme that allegedly steered more than $100 million in contracts to subcontractors. In exchange, Baselice and his associates received more than $7 million in bribes, according to Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

Rinaldi is not named in the indictment, but Baselice’s firm is described as being headquartered in Secaucus, New Jersey, and having a Financial District satellite office at 125 Maiden Lane. where Rinaldi has an office.

Rinaldi also served as the construction manager on the projects described in the indictment, including the FiDi Hotel at 11 Stone Street, Hilton Club The Central at 5th New York at 12 East 48th Street, the Remy at 101 West 28th Street, a condominium at 75 Kenmare Street in Nolita, the Six office building at 106 West 56th Street, the citizenM New York Bowery Hotel, the Fifth Avenue Hotel and the Walker Hotel Tribeca at 396 Bowery.

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Twenty-six companies and 24 individuals were charged. Baselice allegedly used DVA Group, an entity he owned separately from Rinadli, to accept kickbacks from subcontractors.

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An attorney for Rinalda, Edward Diskant, said the company “has no tolerance for unethical or unlawful conduct,” has cooperated fully with the investigation and will continue to do so.

Officials acknowledged Wednesday that the case has a “loose connection” to organized crime. Baselice was convicted in 2010 for promoting gambling in 2010 and was described by the New York Post at the time as a Gambino-crime family associate.

Baselice allegedly used his position at Rinaldi to shape subcontractor bids — negotiated over WhatsApp, phone calls, emails and coffee at a Staten Island diner — padded with bribes for himself and others, authorities said.

Then, in a series of theatrics that he dubbed a “dog and pony show,” he pretended to “strong-arm” subcontractors to lower their prices on behalf of developers, according to prosecutors. In reality, the contracts were inflated to begin with.

One of the subcontractors facing charges, Big Apple Designers, was indicted last year for its alleged role in a $20 million construction payroll scheme. Alba Services was also charged in the scheme.

Laborers union Local 79 has waged a campaign against the demolition contractor, alleging that the company failed to provide workers with health benefits and was offering reward money for information related to employees who file a “fraudulent claim.”