Wilton man pleads not guilty to federal bribery charges
WILTON — A local man who served on a committee overseeing a town elementary school construction project has been indicted on federal charges of paying bribes for contracts to work at three colleges, officials said.
Stephen DiNapoli, 40, has pleaded not guilty to one count of conspiracy and two counts of bribery in federal court in Springfield, Mass, according to his attorney, John Gulash, of Gulash & Associates in Bridgeport.
Gulash declined to comment further about the case.
According to the indictment, DiNapoli was the principal of Norwalk-based Big East Environmental, an environmental consulting firm, from 2013 to 2019.
DiNapoli worked with Floyd Young, who held positions involving facility maintenance at American International College in Massachusetts and several colleges in New York, the U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts said.
The indictment alleges Young steered contracts for construction, repair, maintenance, and other work to favored contractors, including DiNapoli, who paid him bribes, sometimes noted as “fees,” typically in the amount of 15 percent of the contract. Cash changed hands in face-to-face meetings, the indictment said.
According to the indictment, DiNapoli allegedly paid two bribes to Young totaling $3,750 to obtain contract payments from American International College. The indictment also lists alleged bribe payments of $11,400 to Young for contracts from Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., and $14,700 as alleged bribe payments for contracts from Cooper Union in New York City.
Young pleaded guilty in August to conspiracy to receive bribes by an agent of an organization receiving federal funds. His attorney, Kevin Murphy, declined to comment.
During a status conference on Oct. 21, attorneys for the government made their first set of disclosures and requested DiNapoli turn over computer hard drives to collect digital evidence. According to Gulash, the next status conference will be held in early 2021.
At the time of his indictment in August, DiNapoli was released on a promise to appear in court.
Service in Wilton
DiNapoli served on the Miller-Driscoll Building Committee when the Wilton school underwent renovation. In that role, he was one of the committee members who periodically reviewed project invoices and recommended them for approval to the full committee.
First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice said DiNapoli joined the Miller-Driscoll Building Committee in 2016, after serving on the superintendent’s Parent Committee for the school. Vanderslice said the committee “did not have financial or decision-making authority over the Miller-Driscoll project.”
“All the major and lessor contractors were bid by Turner Construction and TSK Architects and chosen before the end of 2015, prior to Steve DiNapoli joining the committee,” she said. “There were a small number of expenditures outside of those original contractors. Those bids and/or expenditures originated with Turner Construction, TSK Architects or [facilities director] Chris Burney.
“Payments in connection with the building project went through three layers of review and approval before the invoices were submitted to any Miller-Driscoll Building Committee members.”
Vanderslice said DiNapoli also did not have “any independent authority on the committee.”
DiNapoli is also listed on the town website as a member of the Building Inspectors Board of Appeals. Vanderslice said DiNapoli joined the board in 2018, but the panel has not convened in “at least 15 years.”
If convicted of conspiracy, DiNapoli faces up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss. For each count of paying bribes, DiNapoli faces up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss.