2 plead guilty to fraud counts in airport probe|
At one time, he was considered a go-to guy for people looking to do business at Philadelphia International Airport. But yesterday Joseph C. Moderski sat before a federal judge and quietly admitted his guilt in an influence-peddling scheme. Moderski, 69, of Bryn Mawr, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and wire- and mail-fraud charges for bilking an airport contractor for whom he was consulting. U.S. District Judge James T. Giles set sentencing for Jan. 3, 2007. Moderski remains free on bail, although Giles ordered him not to gamble at any casinos after Moderski said he sometimes gambled. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joan Markman and Will Spade, Moderski's attorney, declined comment when asked if Moderski was cooperating with investigators looking into other contracts at the airport. The airport has been one of the areas under scrutiny in the feds' ongoing municipal-corruption probe. Moderski said yesterday he now works as a consultant out of state. In a separate hearing yesterday, Joseph Evans, 51, of Oyster Bay, N.Y., pleaded guilty to mail fraud in connection with a $10,000 sham bonus paid to Moderski. He is to be sentenced Jan. 4. Moderski and Evans also told Giles they knew their illegal acts were wrong at the time. Two other defendants in the case - Eric Selby and Terry Crockett - pleaded guilty to conspiracy and wire-fraud charges in March and will be sentenced next month. Under sentencing guidelines, all four could face between six and 16 months in prison. Evans was CEO and Selby regional vice president of Sky Sites, a subsidiary of JC Decaux SA, a Paris-based company that puts advertising signs in airports. Moderski was a paid consultant for Sky Sites. Crockett is an architect who provided architectural and design services for Sky Sites. In 2000, Moderski sought $10,000 from Sky Sites to donate to Mayor Street's campaign committee. Evans, Moderski and Selby decided that Sky Sites would pay Moderski a $10,000 sham bonus to disguise their intention to make an illegal corporate contribution. State law prohibits corporate campaign contributions. Moderski later ponied up $10,000 to Street's campaign. In 2001, Moderski, Selby and Crockett agreed that Crockett would submit a bogus invoice for $30,000 to Sky Sites so they could each make $10,000 contributions to a political-action committee headed by lawyer and power broker Ronald A. White. The idea behind the scheme was to encourage city officials to extend Sky Sites' advertising contract at the airport for terminals A-E. The contract was later awarded to Clear Channel. Neither Decaux nor Street was charged with any wrongdoing in the case. White was indicted on unrelated corruption charges in 2004 but died before his case went to trial.