Federal mass-transit officials are reviewing the criminal charges against Secretary of Labor Raymond J. Donovan to determine if his company should be suspended from doing business with the Transportation Department.
New regulations adopted by the department last April made provision for the first time for sanctions against firms where there is "adequate evidence" of commission of fraud or any criminal offense incident to the performance of government business or a public contract. The regulations also state that "an outstanding indictment or information is adequate evidence of suspected criminal conduct and may be the basis for imposition of a suspension."
A Bronx grand jury indicted Donovan, nine other individuals and two corporations, including Donovan's firm, the Schiavone Construction Co., Sept. 24 for grand larceny and related charges involving a $186 million subway project here.
The project is 80 percent funded by the Urban Mass Transportation Administration.
UMTA Administrator Ralph J. Stanley said in a telephone interview this week that his agency was "collecting documents and reviewing" the matter.
However, he emphasized that it was proceeding cautiously and was far short of any decision to "initiate a suspension."
Stanley also voiced his own reluctance to suspend Schiavone and said that no such step had ever been taken against an UMTA-funded contractor.
"To my knowledge, the only proceeding we have had was subsequent to a conviction," he said. "What I don't want to say is, 'Boom, suspend it [the company],' and then find out that it the indictment is a wash."
Stanley said that the agency had been "contacted, just informationally," about the Donovan case around "the third week of October" by the New York City Transit Authority and so far has done little more than "a document-assembling exercise."
The new regulations were promulgated by Transportation Secretary Elizabeth Hanford Dole last April "to help ensure maximum integrity in programs receiving DOT financial assistance."
Under the rules, "anyone may contact the appropriate operating administration" concerning possible grounds for suspension or debarment and thereupon "an initiating official shall review the matter. . . . The initiating official may suspend any participant or affiliate. . . after coordination with the appropriate DOT legal office."
The "initiating official" in this case is UMTA regional chief Rick Nasti, who said today he had no idea when his review would be completed. Stanley emphasized that there is no deadline under the regulations. He also expressed doubt that the allegations in the Donovan indictment, centering on Schiavone Construction's alleged dealings with a Mafia-controlled subcontractor, constituted a federal crime.
Donovan's lawyers, meanwhile, submitted a petition in U.S. District Court seeking removal of the case to the federal courts as far as Donovan is concerned. They said the 137-count Bronx indictment involved 74 "crimes allegedly committed while [Donovan] was secretary of labor" and therefore should be tried on a federal level.