Howard M. Schoor, former chairman and CEO of Manalapan, N.J.-based Schoor DePalma Inc., was indicted Dec. 14 by a federal grand jury in Newark on one count of bribing two municipal officials in Ocean Township, N.J., related to current and future contracts. Newark-based U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie announced the indictment against Schoor, who founded the firm in 1968, served as chairman and CEO until 1992 and retired in August 2005, in the wake of an FBI investigation of the alleged bribery scheme. Christie noted, however, that the company has "cooperated in the government's investigation and is not accused of wrongdoing."
Schoor DePalma has about 1,100 employees and is ranked 88th on ENR's List of the Top 500 Design Firms, with $102.1 million in revenue in 2005. It is one of New Jersey's largest municipal engineering firms. According to the indictment, the bribes, made between 1998 and 2001, included $16,000 in cash to the individuals, who include the township's mayor, and use of Schoor's condominium in Boca Raton, Fla.
Schoor allegedly made the bribes "to get and maintain large contracts" with the township's sewerage authority, says the document. It also alleges "several acts of concealment by Schoor of the corrupt payments and benefits." The multi-million-dollar contracts with the township in that period generated an estimated $600,000 to $850,000 in fees to Schoor DePalma, says the indictment.
In a statement, Schoor DePalma says that Schoor, 67, has had "limited involvement" in company activities since leaving his leadership posts, and that the firm adopted stricter ethics rules in August 2005, after revelation of the bribery probe. In a letter to "valued clients," the firm said it would eliminate all corporate political donations, curb spending on clients meals and entertainment and create a new independent compliance officer role. That official would also have to approve individual political contributions by any of the firm's 70 partners.
Schoor had not been scheduled for a court date at ENR press time. He faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.