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Indian-American former United Airlines employee pleads guilty to role in bribery conspiracy

New York, Dec 15 (IANS) An Indian-origin former airline corporate real estate director and two other co-conspirators admitted accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from a company in exchange for helping it obtain contracts from the airline.

New Jersey residents Alok Saksena, 45, Anthony Rosalli, 44, and Lovella Rogan, 48, each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud at the Trenton federal court recently.

“The defendants compromised their positions by accepting bribes in the form of hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of home renovations, electronics, and jewelry. Commercial bribery of this kind corrupts the fairness of our economic system,” US Attorney Philip R Sellinger said.

According to documents filed in this case, the three held positions with the airline that enabled them to influence which companies the airline would award certain contracts to at Newark Liberty International Airport (Newark Airport).

According to local media reports, they were employed with the United Airlines.

The defendants conspired to receive bribes and kickbacks from a company that provided maintenance and construction services in exchange for helping that company obtain lucrative airline contracts at Newark Airport.

In September 2021, the maintenance and construction company bid on a contract to renovate restrooms at Newark Airport. The defendants sat on the selection committee and each of them voted to award the contract to the company.

In exchange for the defendants’ help in obtaining the contract and with the expectation that they would use their positions to help the company obtain future contracts, the company agreed to pay for significant renovations at the defendants’ personal residences.

This included renovating and building bathrooms, renovating a deck, installing floors and sheetrock, and renovating a kitchen.

The company gave the defendants valuable items, including electronics and jewellery.

The total value of the bribes paid was approximately $539,000 to Saksena; approximately $276,000 to Rosalli; and approximately $409,000 to Rogan.

The defendants also conspired with an employee of the maintenance and construction company to fraudulently inflate change orders, which amended the contract’s scope of work, to recoup some of the bribe costs.

With the defendants’ knowledge and consent, the company submitted change orders, which contained fraudulently high numbers, to obtain money not legitimately earned by the company so that the company could partially fund the bribe payments to the defendants.

The trio faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Saksena’s sentencing is scheduled for April 17 next year, and for the other two, it has been scheduled a day after.

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