Sham NYC safety school gave fake certifications to more than 20k students — as president walked away with millions: Manhattan DA | #schoolsaftey

A Brooklyn security company allegedly doled out tens of thousands of fraudulent safety certificates to students who paid hundreds of dollars — but never provided any training for the crucial life-saving safety measures, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office said Wednesday.

The alleged misconduct by a half-dozen executives and employees of Valor Security and Investigations wasn’t just another case of fraud, however — it led to the death of Ivan Frias, a 36-year-old construction worker who died in November 2022 after he fell 15 stories on a West End Avenue construction site, Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg said in a statement.

Between December 2019 and April 2023, VALOR issued safety certificates and cards to approximately 20,000 students. Steven Hirsch

Frias never had his required 10 hours of safety training and fall protection — even though Valor filed paperwork claiming he had, the statement said.

Meanwhile, company president Alexander Shaporov allegedly walked away with massive amounts of ill-begotten cash that he later used to buy a yacht, several houses, luxury cars and jewelry (among other things).

“Companies like Valor Security and Investigations were tasked with administering the required trainings … and issuing certificates, affirming in official documents that the workers were fully trained and ready to go out and do these very dangerous jobs,” Bragg said at a Wednesday press conference.

“Valor instead issued thousands and thousands of safety certificates and cards without providing adequate training — and, frequently, without providing any training at all,” Bragg said. “In a word — this is unacceptable. In an industry like this, fraud has dire consequences. Indeed, fraud can mean life and death.”

The New York State Supreme Court indictment charged six people — Shaporov, 40; training director Richard Marini, 70; instructor Eliot Sosinov, 44; general manager Nigina Zokirova, 24; compliance director Marina Balzer, 28; and business development director Rimma Chakhalyan, 24; with enterprise corruption that included 261 acts related to their years-long plot, the statement said.

Company president Alexander Shaporov is pictured being escorted out of a courtroom in Manhattan. Steven Hirsch

Shaporov, Marini, Zokirova and broker Luz Barbra, 43, have also been charged with second-degree reckless endangerment for Frias’ death, which authorities say might not have happened if he’d received the necessary training.

Valor — which claimed to provide regulator-approved safety training, inspections, plans and security services for its clients — issued the fraudulent certifications and cards to about 20,000 other students between December 2019 and April 2023, the statement said.

The eye-popping number made Valor the third-largest producer of safety certifications in the Big Apple during that span, it added.

The company charged between $300 and $600 for cards that certified the bearer had gotten the required 40 hours of safety training needed to work on a construction site — which Bragg said is broken up into 30 hours of lessons from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration and 10 hours of site safety training.

Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg said the company issued cards falsely claiming the bearer had received 40 hours of safety training. Steven Hirsch

But Valor rarely bothered teaching its students much of anything.

Undercover investigators bought the 40-hour safety certificates from the company without taking any training classes — and the cards arrived within the hour, the statement said.

Authorities also charged 19 people for acting as brokers who connected clients to the company — and brokers often got the cards and certificates “within days, overnight, or even within the same day,” the statement said.

Prosecutors said they have text messages and emails that buttress their case — including one 2021 email in which Shaporov directed his staff to concoct fraudulent site safety training cards for dozens of “trainees.”

Prosecutors allege Valor took payment for the certificates without providing any training. Valor Security & Investigations

Shaporov had also been an employee of the New York State Office of Medicaid Inspector General at the time, the statement added.

His company had also filed fraudulent documents with the OSHA and the buildings department that claimed trainers had taught in Brooklyn — even though they were in other states at the time, authorities said.

Other times, Valor allegedly claimed its trainers were working in different states on the same day.

Shaporov walked away with nearly $1 million in Zelle payments that were sent straight to his personal account, prosecutors said.

19 additional people were charged for acting as “brokers,”
who connected clients to the company. Steven Hirsch

Many deposits were in small amounts that were “consistent with the cost of the safety courses,” Bragg said.

Bragg’s office conducted the probe with the city Department of Investigation, the buildings department and OSHA, he said.

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