Man charged with taking bribes for military base work

AP News
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Posted: Mar 22, 2017 5:22 PM

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — A Pennsylvania man took more than $100,000 in bribes in a scheme involving construction projects at two New Jersey military bases, the U.S. attorney's office said in a criminal complaint released Wednesday.

Kevin Leondi, 56, of Stroudsburg, was charged with conspiracy to accept bribes and defraud the United States, which carries a maximum five-year prison sentence.

Leondi will plead not guilty, his attorney said after he was released on $250,000 bail following an initial court appearance.

Attorney Ernie Preate Jr. said that he and Leondi have been providing volumes of documents related to the case to federal prosecutors for a couple of years.

"We think that there's another side to this story," Preate said without going into specifics. "They interpret things their way, we interpret things another way."

According to the complaint, Leondi received $125,000 in bribes in the form of cash, the sale of unneeded equipment and work performed at his personal property. Leondi was employed by the Army as a contract specialist and served as liaison with contractors seeking work at Picatinny Arsenal and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.

Leondi allegedly asked one contractor for $45,000 for help paying his mortgage, and received part of it by selling the contractor a piece of equipment worth $4,000 to $5,000 for roughly $28,000.

He also asked one contractor to install bathroom tiling and hardwood floors at his personal property for free, according to the complaint. When the contractor refused, the complaint said Leondi had a different contractor perform the work and forced the first contractor to pay for it.

Preate said that the charges will be difficult on Leondi who he described as a hard-working, well-liked small businessman. He said that he's known Leondi for nearly 40 years and that Leondi interned for him when Preate served as district attorney for Lackawanna County.

Preate later served as Pennsylvania's attorney general before pleading guilty to federal mail fraud charges related to a campaign contribution. He served a year in federal prison.

Picatinny Arsenal is a center for research and development of weapons systems and ammunition, and Joint Base McGuire includes the installations formerly known separately as McGuire Air Force Base, Fort Dix and Lakehurst Naval Air Engineering Station.