A New York state judge has dismissed bribery charges against a former Black & Veatch executive, citing mishandling of evidence by the New York City construction fraud chief prosecutor, who resigned in late January.
State Supreme Court Judge Michael Orbus on Feb. 5 threw out a 2018 bribery case brought by the city District Attorney's office against Kyriacos Pierides, who had been a city-based associate vice president of the Kansas City design-build firm, claiming it was "troubling and inadequate." He added that “dismissal, while drastic, is the appropriate sanction."
Pierides was indicted on fraud and bribery charges, along with executives of several other design firms in what prosecutors said was a decade-long corruption scheme to win infrastructure contracts, Also charged is a former city environmental agency manager.
According to the judge's ruling, assistant district attorney Diana Florence withheld evidence or waited months to turn it over to defense attorneys. They had filed a motion on Jan. 13 for case dismissal.
Emily Tuttle, a spokeswoman for the office of District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. confirmed the dismissal to ENR.
Florence could not be reached, but she has denied the evidence withholding in court documents, says a Jan. 23 NY Post report.
“We respect the Judge’s decision, and we are in the process of reviewing this matter and related cases,” said Tuttle.
Tuttle did not say if a retrial could occur for Pierides or if the new evidence would affect the November conviction of Henry Chlupsa, former president of D&B Engineers & Architects. Assistant District Attorney Rachana Pathakhas was named to lead the construction fraud prosecutions.
Referring to Pierides as a "proud engineer and PhD," his attorney Marc Agnifilo told ENR that his client "worked on some of the most important public projects in the city of New York, and it all came to an unfair end when the District Attorney secured an indictment against him by withholding from the Grand Jury’s consideration evidence of his actual innocence."
Black & Veatch said he joined the firm in 2008 and left in 2015. His current employment status could not be immediately confirmed.
The company said it has been informed that it will not be prosecuted and is cooperating with the DA’s investigation.
Two former top executives of New York City-based engineer HAKS, CEO Husam Ahmad and CFO Shahid Akhtar, pleaded guilty in city court last May to contract-related bribe charges. Akhtar also may withdraw his plea, according to his attorney in local media reports.
HAKS also signed a deferred prosecution settllement with prosecutors, agreeing to a $3-million civil claim over the next three years, for which Ahmad was assuming secondary liabllity. Last year, HAKS rebranded as ATANE Consulting.