Three indicted in UMass fraud scheme

  • The Physical Plant building at the University of Massachusetts. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

Staff Writer
Published: 8/22/2019 2:00:19 AM
Modified: 8/22/2019 2:00:09 AM

AMHERST — Three men have been indicted by a Hampshire County grand jury in connection with alleged fraud at the University of Massachusetts involving thousands of dollars in kickbacks and unlawful gifts such as vacations to Mexico.

Attorney General Maura Healey’s office has accused John Strycharz, 57, a former supervisor at the UMass physical plant, of supervising millions of dollars worth of hazardous materials remediation work awarded to a company, Compass Restoration, in which he had a “secret ownership or financial interest.”

Healey’s office also alleges that Victor Rodrigues, 58, of Belchertown, who owns Compass Restoration, made illegal gifts to Strycharz such as vacations to Mexico, motorboats and labor at a family property.

Maintenance foreman Michael McGoldrick, 50, of Leyden, who replaced Strycharz in 2014 in overseeing certain contractors, is accused of taking $3,000 from Rodrigues’ company in support of his son’s auto racing activities. Healey’s office also accuses him of taking $14,880 in 10 check payments from Dimauro Carpet & Tile from 2013-2016 for the same reasons.

McGoldrick has since been placed on administrative leave, the university said in a statement.

Compass Restorations was contracted to remediate asbestos, lead, mold, PCB and other dangerous materials by UMass, the attorney general’s office said. The work lasted from from 2008-2015.

UMass says has been working closely with Healey’s office in a probe that led to these indictments. Strycharz resigned from his position on Dec. 18, 2015.

Strycharz and Rodrigues were indicted by a Hampshire County grand jury on Wednesday. McGoldrick was indicted previously.

Rodrigues is charged with procurement fraud, conspiracy to commit procurement fraud, and giving illegal gratuities to a state employee.

Strycharz is charged with procurement fraud, conspiracy to commit procurement fraud, use of official state position to secure unwarranted privileges, accepting illegal gratuities and larceny over $250.

McGoldrick has been charged with use of official state position to secure unwarranted privileges, and accepting illegal gratuities. He will be arraigned Aug. 30 in Hampshire Superior Court.

The university said on Wednesday that the attorney general’s investigation developed as a result of information forwarded by UMass in 2016 as part of an internal investigation of the environmental services unit of its physical plant division.

In early 2016, the university placed five employees on paid leave as part of that investigation into allegations of workplace misconduct, such as misreporting of time and misuse of campus resources at the physical plant. One employee had resigned the year prior.

When asked if there was any connection to the employees recently indicted and those who were placed on leave or resigned a few years prior, university spokesman Ed Blaguszewski said the university would not comment on personnel matters.

Blaguszewski declined to comment on the specific charges, deferring all comments to the attorney general’s office, who could not be reached Wednesday night.

As a result of its review, the university said in 2016 it was pursuing several measures to ensure accountability in state employees.

The physical plant is a division of Facilities & Campus Services at UMass. In fiscal 2018 the physical plant had an operating budget of $41.5 million. The division is responsible for the custodial, grounds, utilities and building maintenance for property at the university.

Michael Connors can be reached at mconnors@gazettenet.com.




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