A federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration official admitted Wednesday to conspiring with his brother to extort New Jersey contractors out of about $14,000 by threatening them with bogus violations unless they paid for fake safety training, according to court documents.
Alvaro Idrovo, 46, of Bloomfield, pleaded guilty in a video conference federal court hearing to charges including conspiring to defraud the United States and an act of extortion under color of his office or employment with the U.S. Department of Labor, New Jersey U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced.
While working as a compliance safety and health officer for OSHA, Idrovo falsely told contractors at construction sites in Essex, Bergen, Hudson and Morris counties they faced major fines, penalties and possible jail if they did not get the supposed safety training, prosecutors said in court papers. The workplace safety official referred the contractors to the purportedly required trainer, who turned out to be his brother using aliases of “Jose Diaz” or “Paul Mejia.”
Idrovo and his brother, Paul Idrovo, charged contractors $4,000 to $6,000 each in cash payments for the alleged required training, according to court records. In exchange for the money, Paul Idrovo gave the contractors fraudulent safety and health certificates from the fake names without providing the services, court papers show.
Paul Idrovo gave his brother $5,000 collected in the fraud, according to prosecutors.
The scheme was foiled after OSHA officials were alerted by a contractor and referred the case to federal law enforcement investigators, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Investigators arranged for the contractor to make recordings of the Idrovo brothers, according to documents in the case. The surveillance captured the contractor pay Paul Idrovo $6,000 in cash for false ladder and safety awareness training certificates and a safety and health plan, which came from a template with a fake name, during an April 2020 meeting.
Paul Idrovo pleaded guilty last year to conspiring to defraud the United States and other charges for his role in the scam, authorities said.
Alvaro Idrovo is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 16, 2023, officials said. His defense attorney could not be immediately reached to comment.
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Noah Cohen may be reached at email@example.com.