Stoneham officer, brother indicted in fraud scheme
STONEHAM, Mass. (AP) — A Massachusetts police officer and his brother have been indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly paying an employee of a Mass Save vendor company tens of thousands in weekly cash bribes.
Joseph Ponzo, 48, a Stoneham police officer, and Christopher Ponzo, 47, of North Reading, an owner of an electrical contracting company, were also accused of using kickbacks and offering other benefits — including a John Deere tractor, a computer, home bathroom fixtures, and free electrical work — in exchange for more than $36 million in Mass Save contracts with the vendor company, according to federal prosecutors.
An associate of the company — not named by prosecutors — helped the brothers create companies, assisted in gaining approval for the companies to serve as Mass Save contractors, and helped them obtain Mass Save projects, according to investigators.
The Ponzos allegedly collected about $29 million and $7 million respectively in fraudulently obtained funds.
Mass Save is a public-private partnership sponsored by gas and electric utilities that disburses energy efficiency funds — collected through an energy efficiency surcharge on energy consumers — to pay for energy conservation projects at no or little cost to consumers.
The two were arrested and arraigned Friday. Attorneys for the brothers could not immediately be reached.