The owner of a Clarkstown transportation company who runs the Rockland County bus system was arrested Thursday morning on federal charges for allegedly taking payments for work on Rockland BOCES vehicles that was never done.
Richard Brega, 49, allegedly paid bribes to BOCES Transportation Director William Popkave and falsified documentation to indicate his company, Brega D.O.T. Maintenance Corp., had repaired and maintained school vehicles, prosecutors said in a news release announcing the five-count indictment.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said the pair schemed to defraud BOCES then “tried to cover their tracks through fake invoices and deceptive money transactions.”
Popkave, 61, of Nanuet has pleaded guilty to conspiracy, fraud, theft, bribery, and obstruction of justice charges in the case, prosecutors also announced. His sentencing by Judge Vincent Briccetti has not been scheduled.
Brega faces the same charges as Popkave. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 80 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The charges indicate Brega and Popkave “not only betrayed the public trust, but risked making school buses, including some used for disabled children, less safe,” Bharara said. “Thanks to the work of the FBI and the Rockland County District Attorney’s Office, this allegedly callous scheme has been exposed.”
Brega’s Rockland Transport Corp. has operated the county’s Transport of Rockland and Tappan ZEExpress bus lines, with a fleet of 60 buses, since 2013 after being awarded the five-year, $70 million contract in late 2011 by the Rockland Legislature.Brega took over after providing a lower bid than the Rockland Transit Corp., a subsidiary of Coach USA, which had held the contract to run Transit of Rockland since 1976.
A Journal News investigation found nearly a dozen of Brega’s employees and associates had donated $48,000 to the campaign of Legislator Ilan Schoenberger, D-Ramapo, who supported Brega getting the contract.
Schoenberger, who had received several donations of $4,000 or more, denied any wrongdoing or knowledge of the contributions. At the time he was embroiled in a 2013 Democratic Party primary for county executive, which he lost to David Fried, a former legislator and now a Spring Valley justice.”
Read the complete Journal News story here.