Queen’s Park officials charged in alleged kickback scheme

The OPP has not identified the cleaning company or laid charges against a cleaner. OPP Inspector Dave Ross said only that the investigation is “ongoing.” Nine search warrants have been executed on government offices and private residences.

The Toronto Star
December 21, 2010

Queen’s Park officials charged in alleged kickback scheme
Year-long investigation into government cleaning contracts leads to four arrests
Kevin Donovan

An alleged cash kickback scheme involving government cleaning contracts at the Queen’s Park office complex has been broken up by police.

On Monday, the Ontario Provincial Police arrested three provincial officials and one employee at CB Richard Ellis, a company that does project management work for the government.

Three government officials — two at the Ministry of Transportation and one at the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade — have been charged with accepting a secret commission and breach of trust and are on paid leave from their jobs. The project manager employee has been charged with one count of fraud under $5,000 and is on unpaid leave.

The OPP has not identified the cleaning company or laid charges against a cleaner. OPP Inspector Dave Ross said only that the investigation is “ongoing.” Nine search warrants have been executed on government offices and private residences.

The OPP said the probe began a year ago when provincial audit officials found some financial irregularities relating to a cleaning contract. Sources have told the Star that allegations investigated by police include one that a cleaning contractor and government officials double billed the province by both submitting invoices for cleaning services and then paying for those same services using a government credit card, also called a “P” card.

“The investigation focused on irregular financial transactions relating to cash and cleaning services between a vendor and employees of several provincial ministries,” the OPP said in a news release.

Similar allegations involving a cleaning contract first surfaced three years ago but the province took little action. Last year when an audit spotted new concerns, police were called in.

Transportation Minister Kathleen Wynne said government officials have “fully cooperated throughout the investigation.”

“The Ontario Public Service consists of hardworking, dedicated individuals committed to providing the public services Ontarians rely on,” she said. “When employees do engage in misconduct, it is a very serious matter and appropriate action is taken.”

A spokesperson for CB Richard Ellis said the employee charged had worked for the firm that used to do the government’s property management. When CB Richard Ellis took over the contract in 2009 she and others from the former firm were hired.

“In July of this year, CB Richard Ellis received a request from the Ontario Provincial Police for information pertaining to one of those employees, and we fully cooperated with them,” said Margot Friedman, a senior vice-president at CB Richard Ellis.

“CB Richard Ellis has strong policies regarding ethical behaviour and business practices that all our employees are required to follow. We have zero tolerance for illicit or unethical activity in any form,” Friedman said.

The four charged by police are:

• Gino Conicella, 47, of Woodbridge, with one count of breach of trust and one count of accepting a secret commission in 2010. Conicella is a project coordinator for the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade.

• Michaele Depace, 47, of Toronto, with one count of breach of trust, one count of accepting a secret commission, one count of fraud over $5,000 and one count of uttering a forged document. The offences allegedly occurred between 2004 and 2010. The accused is an employee of the Facilities Management Office of the Ministry of Transportation.

• Kathy Pagliaroli, 40, of Woodbridge, with one count of breach of trust and one count of accepting a secret commission, with the offence allegedly occurring in 2010. The accused is a business support analyst with the Ministry of Transportation.

• Ivanna Presot, 46, of Toronto, with one count of fraud under $5,000. The accused is a customer service manager with CB Richard Ellis Global Corporate Services. The offence allegedly occurred in 2010.

Conicella and Depace are to appear in court Jan. 31. Presot and Pagliaroli are to appear Feb. 3.

http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/909910--opp-charge-provincial-officials-after-lengthy-probe?bn=1


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