Construction exec pleads guilty to MWBE fraud

Lawrence Wecker, JM3 wrongfully obtained contracts: DA

Construction Exec, Company Plead Guilty to MWBE Fraud
A photo illustration of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (Getty)

An octogenarian construction executive is likely headed to prison after pleading guilty to charges over fraud in his work with minority and women-owned businesses.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg announced guilty pleas from Lawrence Wecker, 83, and his company JM3 Construction after a wide-ranging indictment was handed down in May. A subcontractor and his company also pleaded guilty on related charges, while another six individuals and four companies have pending cases.

Wecker owned and operated JM3, a non-union drywall and carpentry company specializing in government-subsidized affordable housing projects. Prosecutors say Wecker paid certified MWBEs to bid on and win contracts, which often carry requirements for a percentage of the work to be done by MWBEs.

But JM3 falsified business records to make it seem like MWBEs were providing goods and services on projects, which were instead being worked on by JM3 itself and other non-qualifying firms. In Manhattan, projects roped into the scheme include the National Urban League at 126 West 126th Street and L+M Development Partners’ 12-story apartment building at 79 Avenue D.

Sign Up for the undefined Newsletter

Wecker and JM3 also stiffed subcontractors, committed insurance fraud and bribed officials with cash.

Wecker pleaded guilty to two felonies, enterprise corruption and attempted criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree. He is expected to be sentenced to between two and six years in state prison at the end of April.

JM3 pleaded guilty to scheme to defraud in the first degree. Subcontractor JACG Construction pleaded guilty to insurance fraud in the third degree, while its owner, Joseph Guinta, pleaded guilty to the same charge; Guinta is expected to be sentenced to six months in jail, three years of probation and be forced to pay $150,000 in restitution to the New York State Insurance Fund.

In 2000, Wecker was one of more than three dozen people indicted in a pervasive bid-rigging and racketeering conspiracy targeting the concrete industry. In 1986, Wecker was an unindicted co-conspirator in a case involving organized crime and the industry.

In 1997, he was convicted of federal tax evasion.

Recommended For You