NYC Design Firm Executives Plead Guilty in Pay-to-Play Scheme
Two former top executives of New York City-based engineer HAKS pleaded guilty in city court May 13 to bribe charges related to efforts to gain municipal water infrastructure contracts, according to court filings, an attorney for its ex-chief financial officer and plea agreements provided to ENR by the Manhattan district attorney's office.
Husam Ahmad and Shahid Akhtar, the former CEO and CFO, respectively, entered the pleas.
The agreement with Ahmad says he is pleading guilty to one felony count of bribery of municipal employees, as part of a broader array of charges announced last year in a contract pay to play probe brought by New York City prosecutors against the executives and those of other design firms.
He faces possible jail time of up to six years.
But prosecutors dropped other charges against Ahmad and said current investigations of the executive are ended based on compliance with the agreement's terms.
Ahmad has agreed to sell his company ownership stake to a "third party, at arm's length" but will be allowed to receive company board of directors' updates.
In his plea agreement, Akhtar pleaded guilty to two counts of offering a false instrument for filing and faces a possible one to three-year sentence.
Ahmad and Akhtar will be sentenced in Manhattan Supreme Court on July 8.
The plea agreement says that with the guilty plea, HAKS will sign a deferred prosecution agreement with prosecutors, agreeing to a pay a $3-million civil claim over the next three years, for which Ahmad will assume secondary liabllity.
An attorney for Ahmad did not respond to an ENR query for comment, and an attorney for Akhtar declined to comment other than to confirm his client's plea.
In its most recent ENR Top 500 Design Firms filing, HAKS ranked at No. 134 on the 2018 list, reporting $112.8 million in previous year revenue, with 56% in transportation.
Last year, HAKS rebranded as ATANE Consulting, according to a website note from Len Schneidt, now acting president and CEO.
He did not comment further in response to an ENR query.