Brother and Sister Donal and Helen O’Sullivan from Ballinskelligs are facing 20 years in jail in the US after both were found guilty of fraud and embezzlement last week following a three week trial in New York.
onal (60) is the founder, owner and president of Navillus, one of New York’s City’s largest construction firms, and Helen O’Sullivan is a payroll administrator in the company, which was founded by the O’Sullivan family in the 1980’s when they emigrated to the US.
The siblings along with the company’s financial controller Padraig Naughton, were found guilty on all 11 counts charging wire fraud, mail fraud, embezzlement from employee benefits funds, submission of false remittance reports to union benefits funds, and conspiracy to commit those crimes last week.
The verdicts followed a three-week trial before United States District Judge Pamela K. Chen.
When sentenced, each of the defendants faces up to 20 years in prison.
Founded by Donal O’Sullivan and his brothers Leonard and Kevin in 1987, Navillus has been involved in major projects including construction of the new One World Trade Centre tower on the site of the 9/11 terror attacks.
Helen and Donal who both live in New York are the son and daughter of the Jack O’Sullivan and Theresa O’Sullivan. Both are well-known in Irish circles in New York and Donal was honoured by the Kerry GAA in New York in 2010.
United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Breon Peace, announced the verdict last Friday.
“As found by the jury, the defendants deliberately devised a fraudulent scheme to avoid making required contributions to union benefits funds on behalf of Navillus’s workers, in order to deprive the workers of benefits they had earned and deserved,” stated United States Attorney Peace.
Navillus was a signatory to multiple collective bargaining agreements that required the company to make contributions to union benefits funds, such as health, pension and vacation funds, for all “covered work” performed by its workers at construction sites.
Between 2011 and 2017, the defendants engaged in a scheme to avoid making these required contributions by placing some of Navillus’s workers on the payroll of another company (the “Consulting Company”). The Consulting Company then issued weekly pay-checks to those Navillus workers for work they did on Navillus construction jobs.
To conceal the scheme from benefits fund auditors, the defendants caused the Consulting Company to issue fraudulent invoices to disguise the fact that the funds Navillus had issued to the Consulting Firm were made to reimburse the Consulting Company for the wages the Consulting Company had paid to Navillus workers.