Irish New York construction company executives in bid to overturn fraud convictions

Irish New York construction company executives in bid to overturn fraud convictions

AN IRISH brother and sister who could face 20 years in prison in the United States for a variety of fraud and embezzlement charges have filed a motion for acquittal or a new trial.

Last October brother and sister Donal and Helen O’Sullivan from Co Kerry were both found guilty of fraud and embezzlement following a three-week trial in New York. The siblings, along with a third man named Padraig Naughton, were found guilty on 11 counts of wire fraud, mail fraud, embezzlement from employee benefits funds, submission of false remittance reports to union benefits funds, and conspiracy to commit those crimes last week. 

Donal (60) is the owner and president of Navillus, one of New York's City’s largest construction firms, and his sister Helen a payroll administrator in the company. Naughton is the financial controller for the company.

The company was founded by the O’Sullivan family in the 1980s when they emigrated to the US.

Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said upon the verdict:

"Between 2011 and 2017, the defendants engaged in a scheme to avoid making these required contributions by placing some of Navillus’s workers on the payroll of another company (the 'Consulting Company.') The Consulting Company then issued weekly paychecks to those Navillus workers for work they did on Navillus construction jobs.

"To conceal the scheme from benefits fund auditors, the defendants caused the Consulting Company to issue fraudulent invoices to disguise the fact that the funds Navillus had issued to the Consulting Firm were made to reimburse the Consulting Company for the wages the Consulting Company had paid to Navillus workers."

In a New York court both of the O’Sullivan’s and Mr Naughton have lodged motions to have their seeking either a judgement of acquittal or a new trial.

In Mr O’Sullivan’s motion it is argued that there was a "fundamental evidentiary gap" during his trial in that it there was an absence of evidence to prove he was aware of the fraud or that he had any criminal intent.

The US Government has filed a counter motion calling for the O’Sullivan’s and Mr Naughton’s motions to be denied.

Oral arguments have been heard and a judge is due to rule on the motions in the coming days at which point a sentencing date may be set.