News Article - February 07 2006

Four Charged In PHL Advertising Contract Scheme
  (AP) PHILADELPHIA Federal officials on Tuesday charged four men with fraud in an alleged scheme to influence public officials, including Mayor John F. Street, in the awarding of airport advertising contracts. The indictment, involving contracts at Philadelphia International Airport, is the latest in a string of federal charges filed against government officials and others with political connections accused of lining their pockets in exchange for services. The men charged Tuesday were Joseph Moderski, 68, of Bryn Mawr; Joseph Evans, 50, of Oyster Bay, N.Y.; Eric Selby, 39, of Washington Grove, Md.; and Terry Crockett, 61, of Philadelphia. All were charged with conspiracy and mail and wire fraud.

   Prosecutors said the men used company funds to contribute to Pennsylvania political action committees and candidates running for political offices. State law bars corporations from making such donations. U.S. Attorney Patrick L. Meehan said the charges stemmed from “a blatant attempt to buy influence.”

   “If this is the way business gets done in Philadelphia, it sends the message that unless you’re willing to deal in fraudulent invoices and sham bonuses, there’s no room for you at the negotiating table,” Meehan said in a statement. Evans and Selby were executives for Sky Sites Inc., a unit of Paris-based JC Decaux SA specializing in airport advertising and Moderski was a paid consultant working to find Sky Sites new business, prosecutors said. Crockett was hired by Moderski to become a Sky Sites subcontractor providing architectural and design services, prosecutors said. Prosecutors allege Moderski told the three other men that the contributions would lead officials to make decisions beneficial to Sky Sites.

   If convicted, Moderski and Evans each face up to 15 years in prison and a $750,000 fine; Selby and Crockett each face a maximum 10 years in prison and a $500,000 fine. A call to Street’s office was not immediately returned.

Source - CBS-3 (AP)