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Bus Company Owner Found Guilty Of Fraud, Bribery, Theft In Westchester

Richard Brega, 50
Richard Brega, 50 Photo Credit: Rockland County District Attorney's Office

The 50-year-old owner of an area bus repair and transportation company is now awaiting sentencing for fraud, bribery and theft.

Richard Brega, the former owner of Brega D.O.T. Maintenance Corp. in Rockland County, was found guilty by a federal jury in White Plains, according to Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

The convictions were for Brega’s billing the Rockland Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) for maintenance of school buses that were never performed, and bribery of a Rockland BOCES official.

The convictions resulted from a three-week trial before the United States District Judge Kenneth M. Karas. Brega is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Karas on Oct. 17, 2018.

Berman said: “The scheme not only defrauded Rockland school districts and the federal government by billing for bus maintenance work that was not performed, but it also put children at risk of riding unsafe buses.”

From in or about 2012 through in or about 2014, Brega stole money from Rockland BOCES by, among other things, billing Rockland BOCES for Preventative Maintenance inspections that were never performed.

Brega DOT also created invoices documenting the work done and provided those invoices to Rockland BOCES for payment. Rockland BOCES’ director of transportation, William Popkave, would then approve the invoice as accurately stating work that was performed on Rockland BOCES buses, and Rockland BOCES would mail payment to Brega DOT.

To create the fraudulent invoices, and to obtain payment from Rockland BOCES for work that was never performed, Brega bribed Popkave – who oversaw upkeep and maintenance of its buses – with tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of free personal vehicle repairs. Popkave sent Brega lists of buses and their mileages so that Brega could create fraudulent invoices and supporting documentation, and thereafter approved payment of the fraudulent invoices at Rockland BOCES, even though Popkave and BREGA knew that the buses had not even been to Brega DOT on the days for which Brega DOT billed Rockland BOCES, and had not received Preventative Maintenance inspections.

Brega, 50, of Rockland County, was convicted of three counts: (1) mail fraud, which carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison; (2) bribery concerning a program receiving federal funds, which carries a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison; and (3) theft concerning a program receiving federal funds, which carries a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison.

Popkave, 62, who currently resides in Florida, pleaded guilty before Magistrate Judge Judith C. McCarthy on Jan. 24, 2017, to five counts: (1) conspiracy to commit mail fraud, which carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison; (2) mail fraud, which carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison; (3) theft concerning a program receiving federal funds, which carries a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison; (4) bribery concerning a program receiving federal funds, which carries a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison; and (5) obstruction of justice, which carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison.

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