World Trade Center contractors cleared of ‘pay-to-play’ bribery charges

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A trio of contractors who were busted in an alleged “pay-to-play” scheme involving construction at the World Trade Center were cleared by a judge last week based on “insufficient evidence,” new court papers show.

James Luckie, a former Cushman & Wakefield electrical manager, was arrested in May 2019 alongside electrical contracting firm Hatzel & Buehler, Inc. managers Paul Angerame and Michael Garrison in an alleged bribery scheme that spanned from 2015 to 2017.

The New York Attorney General’s office accused Luckie of accepting gifts to the tune of $17,000 — including meals, golf outings and chauffeur services from Angerame and Garrison.

In exchange, prosecutors said Luckie gave the men preferential treatment at the WTC construction site, which is owned by the Port Authority.

But on Friday, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Maxwell Wiley tossed out all of the charges against the men, finding that Luckie couldn’t be considered a government employee because Cushman was contracted by the PA to do electrical work at the site.

That technicality would have needed to be proven in seven of the nine charges in the case.

Further, Wiley found that the AG’s office didn’t establish that the men caused any economic harm to the Port Authority or to Cushman. The jurist also wasn’t persuaded that the men had an agreement to carry out the alleged illicit scheme — all legal requirements to prove guilt in the case.

Wiley said he was dismissing all counts of the indictment against the men “based on insufficient evidence.”

“This case had many flaws,” said Angerame’s lawyer Anthony Capozzolo. “The clients had their reputations tarnished in a way that simply was not fair or just.

“We are thankful for this decision, and the clients are eager to move on with their lives.”

The AG’s office said it’s reviewing its legal options.

Lawyers for Garrison and Luckie did not immediately return requests for comment.

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