Man gets probation after admitting to $2.5m in kickbacks

Associated Press
June 25, 2020 - 9:39 am
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — A Florida man who admitted taking more than $2.5 million in kickbacks and bribes for construction projects on federal buildings, including the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in White River Junction, has been sentenced to three years probation.

Bhaskar Patel, 69, was sentenced Friday by Vermont U.S. District Court Judge Geoffrey Crawford during a video conference.

Patel pleaded guilty two years ago to charges he took more than $2.5 million in kickbacks and bribes from 2011 to 2016 from subcontractors he was overseeing while working for Schneider Electric Buildings America Inc. that were doing energy efficiency projects at U.S. government facilities.

The Valley News reports Patel’s attorney, David Haas, wrote in a sentencing memorandum that Patel, given his age, has little risk of re-offending.

“Without diligent medical care, made all the more difficult in the age of coronavirus, Mr. Patel’s life expectancy and prognosis has a very poor outlook,” Haas said in his memorandum.

Patel has sold his Florida home and is living with his son in New York in order to pay back the government.

Haas said Patel was an honest employee before he joined the company, but Patel’s superiors had told him to do whatever he could to obtain bids and boost profit.

In an email Friday afternoon, Schneider Electric Spokesman Venancio Figeuroa III denied any wrongdoing.

“Schneider Electric employs a set of principles of responsibility and a stringent code of conduct to ensure we conduct business ethically,” he said.

The case began after investigators learned Patel had falsified a bid submitted to Schneider by a Vermont subcontractor that was seeking work at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in White River Junction.

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