Official charged in WTC tower work

January 6, 2009 11:41:36 AM PST
A construction official billed the government for supplies that were never delivered for the cleanup of a toxic ground zero skyscraper in exchange for cash, clothes and trips to the Caribbean, prosecutors said Tuesday. Robert Chiarappa, 45, of Brooklyn, was charged with grand larceny in the theft of $1.2 million in fake invoices for work on the former Deutsche Bank tower across the street from the World Trade Center site.

Chiarappa was the purchasing agent for the John Galt Corp., a contractor fired from the job and later indicted on manslaughter charges for a 2007 fire that killed two firefighters at the toxic skyscraper. The criminal investigation of the fire uncovered evidence of the theft, according to the Manhattan district attorney's office.

Chiarappa told companies to submit phony bills for plastic sheeting, safety equipment, gloves and protective clothing that never were delivered to the tower, prosecutors said. He then signed off on the invoices and used his take of the payments to pay credit card bills, lease a Mercedes and a BMW and take a vacation in Turks and Caicos, prosecutors said.

Chiarappa was awaiting arraignment Tuesday on six counts of grand larceny, punishable by up to 15 years in prison for the most serious count.

The name of his attorney wasn't immediately on record; calls to John Galt's company offices and attorney weren't immediately returned.

The Lower Manhattan Development Corp., the state rebuilding agency that owns the building, were billed for about half of the fake invoices, prosecutors said. Arch Insurance Group, Galt's bonding company, took over the payments when Galt was fired from the job after the Aug. 18, 2007, blaze.

Galt and two of its officials were indicted on manslaughter charges last month in the fire, charged with removing a section of the standpipe that supplied fire hoses with water. The broken water pipe hampered firefighting efforts during the blaze, which officials said was caused by careless smoking.


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STORY BY: Eyewitness News reporters Jamie Roth and Joe Torres

WEB PRODUCED BY: Bill King and Bob Monek

Some information from The Associated Press
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