Navillus Construction executives convicted of embezzling from union benefit funds

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Three executives of one of New York City’s largest construction firms have been found guilty on 11 counts of wire and mail fraud, embezzlement from employee benefits funds, submission of false remittance reports to union benefits funds, and conspiracy to commit those crimes.

A Brooklyn jury returned guilty verdicts on Oct. 22 against Donal O’Sullivan, 60, the founder, owner and president of Navillus Tile, Inc. doing business as Navillus Contracting, Padraig Naughton, 49, Navillus’s financial controller, and Helen O’Sullivan, 61, a payroll administrator, the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York

The verdicts followed a three-week trial before United States District Judge Pamela K. Chen. When sentenced, each of the defendants faces up to 20 years in prison.

Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, announced the verdict.

“As found by the jury, the defendants deliberately devised a fraudulent scheme to avoid making required contributions to union benefits funds on behalf of Navillus’s workers, in order to deprive the workers of benefits they had earned and deserved,” Peace said in the statement. “This office and its law enforcement partners will continue to investigate and prosecute these types of blatant frauds that are harmful to workers.”

Navillus was a signatory to multiple collective bargaining agreements that required the company to make contributions to union benefits funds, such as health, pension and vacation funds, for all “covered work” performed by its workers at construction sites.

Between 2011 and 2017, the defendants engaged in a scheme to avoid making these required contributions by placing some of Navillus’s workers on the payroll of another, consulting, company. The consulting company then issued weekly paychecks to those Navillus workers for work they did on Navillus construction jobs.

To conceal the scheme from benefits fund auditors, the defendants caused the consulting company to issue fraudulent invoices to disguise the fact that the funds Navillus had issued to the consulting firm were made to reimburse the consulting company for the wages the consulting company had paid to Navillus workers.

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