A New York judge has ordered Bronx prosecutors to come up with more details about the larceny and fraud charges against Secretary of Labor Raymond J. Donovan and his business associates.
Justice John M. Collins of Bronx Supreme Court held in a five-page ruling late last week that District Attorney Mario Merola's office had failed to provide enough particulars despite repeated complaints by defense attorneys. The judge ordered the prosecution to answer a number of questions he posed, including the nature of the larceny of which Donovan and the others have been accused.
"Any effort to leave a defendant in ignorance of the substance of the accusation until the time of trial must be firmly rebuffed," Collins said. "This is especially so where the indictment provides a paucity of information."
A Bronx grand jury accused Donovan and 11 other defendants Sept. 24 of scheming to defraud the New York City Transit Authority of millions of dollars in connection with a $186 million subway project by pretending to give the money to a bona fide minority subcontractor.
Defense lawyers contend there was nothing illegal about the transactions and that the money kept by Donovan's firm, the Schiavone Construction Co. of Secaucus, N.J., represented payments due for equipment it rented to the subcontractor, Jopel Contracting and Trucking.
The 137-count indictment was little more than a recitation of the allegedly false reports by which the scheme was supposed to have been carried out over a five-year period. Prosecutors charged in a bill of particulars filed last week that the rental arrangement was phony. But they have been ambivalent about just how much money was the subject of the larceny, contending that it could range from $3.9 million to $12.4 million.
Merola's office was ordered to respond by Dec. 10.