Ex-Clairton manager is sentenced in bid rig theft
A former Clairton business manager who pleaded guilty last summer to one count of theft in a bid-rigging scheme has been sentenced to five months in a halfway house, then five months of house arrest.
Ralph Imbrogno, 65, of Elizabeth Township will serve the home confinement as part of a three-year probation period ordered Wednesday by U.S. District Court of Western Pennsylvania before Judge Cathy Bissoon. The scheme he participated in also involved former West Mifflin Area School District superindentent the late Patrick A. Risha,
Upon his release from confinement, Imbrogno will have to begin paying $94,439 in restitution for school district painting contracts he helped his son Anthony Imbrogno receive between May 30, 2008, and March 2, 2010.
“I realize there was damage done to the school district,” Imbrogno told the court. “At the time, it was too good to be true and it turned out, it wasn't good.”
Imbrogno and his attorney Dan Konieczka had asked for leniency in sentencing from the judge, saying Imbrogno had only participated in the scheme to help his son get his painting business started and that Imbrogno hadn't personally benefited from it.
Frank Imbrogno, testifying as a character witness for his brother, said, “When he was involved with this, his sole purpose was to help his son.”
It was an argument the judge didn't buy, noting Imbrogno's actions were carried out to benefit a close family member and that there was no proof he hadn't personally benefited.
The judge said Imbrogno's lack of a criminal history, his acceptance of responsibility and remorse for actions were factored into her sentencing decision, but she noted Imbrogno's career in public service and betrayal of the public trust were also being considered.
Imbrogno was hired as Clairton city manager in January 2000, and was furloughed in June 2010.
Under sentencing guidelines, Imbrogno was facing 10-16 months incarceration; one to three years supervised release; restitution; and $3,000 to $30,000 in fines.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Carolyn Bloch said the facts of the case didn't support a downward variance on sentencing requested by the defendant.
Bloch said Imbrogno's characterization of the events as a lapse in judgment on his part was “make believe.”
“With each payment to his son's business there was profit motive involved,” she said.
Bloch noted that Risha and Imbrogno at first only awarded projects that didn't exceed $5,000 to the son's company, Imbrogno Painting, on a piecemeal basis to avoid any bid requirements under the law. She said the two men became greedy and expanded the size of the contracts to amounts exceeding $10,000, which require a competitive bidding process, at which point Imbrogno presented erroneous higher bids from other contractors so his son's company would be awarded the jobs.
Bloch noted the interior painting awarded to Imbrogno Painting was work that had previously been carried out by district staff. She said Risha — who was hired at West Mifflin Area in 2006, resigned from that post in 2009 and died in 2010 — ordered district maintenance supervisor Sandra Wells to make sure the work was done by Imbrogno Painting.
Bloch said neither Wells nor the district's business manager Dennis Cmar saw the submitted bids and that Cmar had begun to question the projects because of the costs.
Bloch said if all the projects awarded to Imbrogno Painting were considered, including the ones that were under the $5,000 amount, the loss to the district was closer to $200,000.
Konieczka had argued the bid rigging was aberrant behavior on Imbrogno's part but the judge did not agree, and noted the scheme required significant planning.
A private investigation conducted in the West Mifflin Area School District in 2010 found that Risha had school district employees perform work at the home of then-school board member Albert Graham on school time without receiving additional compensation. Graham was investigated by the state Ethics Commission in 2011 on accusations he used his position to have district employees perform work at his home, and subsequently was ordered to reimburse the district for the cost of those services.
West Mifflin Area school board president Phil Shar, who attended the hearing, said he is pleased with the outcome.
“I'm very happy that the district is going to get $94,000 back in restitution,” he said. “I hope this is the first of many dominoes.”
Imbrogno said he, too, was relieved by the outcome of the hearing.
“It could have been a lot worse,” he said.
Eric Slagle is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1966, or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steel Valley cancels classes, plans for teachers strike
- McKeesport backs effort to rebuild housing in Seventh Ward
- Suspect arrested in fatal West Mifflin shooting
- Mon-Yough communities continue recovery efforts from high waters
- Mon-Yough lawmakers split on Wolf’s budget plan
- Steel Valley to post teacher, administrator salaries online
- Seuss stories inspire ‘math in a hat’
- Homestead Bottom Dollar’s fixtures, equipment head to auction
- Members of Steel Valley, Twin Rivers councils of governments to keep jobs in merger
- Elizabeth Township, McKeesport impacted by ice jam on Youghiogheny River
- Ice jam wipes out McKeesport’s marina