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DOT execs plead to bridge bribes

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But the pair, one of whom is from Bayside, could still face prison time and a hefty fine for their involvement in the bribery scheme, U.S. Attorney Benton Campbell for New York's Eastern District said.Balram Chandiramani, 65, of Bayside, and Uday Shah, 46, admitted on March 24 to orchestrating a $400,000 bribery scheme for which they could each have to serve up to 10 years in prison and to pay a $250,000 fine if convicted, Campbell said. Both defendants will be sentenced before U.S. Magistrate Judge Cheryl Pollak at a date yet to be decided, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney said.Chandiramani, the DOT's director of movable bridges, and Shah, a DOT assistant civil engineer, solicited hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from the Kiska Construction Corporation, based in Turkey, during repairs made to the bridge, Campbell said.Kiska, which has an office in Long Island City, entered into a contract with the DOT in 2001 to serve as general contractor for replacing the bridge, located at 129th Street and Third Avenue in Manhattan and spanning the Harlem River between Manhattan and the Bronx, Campbell said. Work began on the bridge in July 2001 and was completed in November 2006, he said.Kiska submitted a $16.5 million claim to the city comptroller's office in March 2007 for various contract disputes with the DOT, Campbell said. In late 2006, a Kiska executive met with Shah to ask his help in resolving the claim favorably for the company, he said.Shah began providing the executive with confidential information regarding the DOT's negotiating position on settlement amounts for items in the claim, Campbell said. Several meetings between Chandiramani and the Kiska executive were recorded by law enforcement officials, he said.The executive agreed to pay Chandiramani 10 percent of any settlement that exceeded $2.5 million, the U.S. attorney said. Chandiramani guaranteed that he would work to ensure that the company's settlement would be between $6.5 million and $6.6 million in exchange for a $400,000 bribery payment, he said. Shah prepared a spreadsheet for the executive under Chandiramani's direction that would ensure that Kiska would receive the settlement, Campbell said.During the course of the scheme, Chandiramani accepted two cash payoffs totaling $60,000 and Shah accepted a payoff of $5,000 in cash, Campbell said.Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

Updated 6:57 pm, October 10, 2011
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