Bronx prosecutors have charged that a hauling company was to get a $50,000 cash payoff to generate "false business records" in its dealings with Labor Secretary Raymond J. Donovan's construction company.
The allegation was set forth in Bronx Supreme Court in a four-page summary that constituted the first detailed recitation of the case since Donovan and 11 other defendants were indicted on larceny and fraud charges Sept. 24 in connection with a $186 million New York City subway project.
The summary was filed in response to renewed demands by defense attorneys for a comprehensive bill of particulars.
The chief prosecutor in the case, Bronx Assistant District Attorney Stephen R. Bookin, said it revolves around a scheme to misrepresent the hauling company, Jopel Contracting, to the New York City Transit Authority as "a legitimate and independent minority business enterprise" and then to have Jopel generate false business records and bills that inflated the value of the work it was doing.
Donovan's company, Schiavone Construction Co., which headed a joint venture in charge of the project, then kept payments from the Transit Authority for itself instead of complying with a contractual requirement that 10 percent of the bid price be paid to minority contractors, the prosecution said.
Part of the scheme, Bookin said, was that "in return for generating these false business records, Jopel would receive $50,000 cash."
Schiavone Construction's lawyer, Theodore Geiser, said he had "absolutely no idea what the man Bookin is talking about." He said Jopel's records, which involved the rental of equipment from Schiavone, were legitimate, despite the prosecution's claims that it was a spurious arrangement and that Schiavone workers actually ran the equipment.
"I would assume it's like any other of his allegations: pure nonsense," Donovan's lawyer, William O. Bittman, said of the alleged $50,000 payment. "He doesn't give any dates, he doesn't give any specifics at all."
There was no indication in the prosecution's summary that the alleged payoff was made. Bookin refused to elaborate, "because it would reveal a source of grand jury evidence," he said.
Much of the case rests on still-secret FBI tapes compiled during a 1979 surveillance of a South Bronx warehouse run by William P. Masselli, a reputed Mafia "soldier" who headed Jopel.
The eavesdropping and wiretapping prompted a number of investigations under the name "Operation Tumcon," including a federal grand jury inquiry into what was briefly described at Donovan's 1981 Senate confirmation hearings as "the fraudulent establishment of a minority business enterprise by certain individuals."
That inquiry and all other aspects of Operation Tumcon were dropped in 1981. The FBI disclosed yesterday, however, that it is reviewing all 857 of the tape recordings compiled during Tumcon to determine, in conjunction with the Justice Department, whether any cases should have been prosecuted.
"If we see something in our review that would lend itself to prosecution, then we would consider taking action," FBI spokesman Bill Baker said.
Sources reported, meanwhile, that an FBI search for Operation Tumcon records in the bureau's New York field office indicates that a "prosecution report" or summary of at least some of the evidence cannot be found and apparently was destroyed, although the evidence compiled remains intact.
Asked about these reports, Baker said, "I'm not in a position to address that."