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US: Contractor pleads guilty in train station corruption

Associated Press
October 16th, 2006

A fourth defendant pleaded guilty Monday to participating in corruption involving the renovation of state offices at a train station, authorities said.

Louis F. Testa, 65, of Woodbridge, pleaded guilty to filing a false tax return.
Testa, who owns Merritt Builders, admitted he failed to pay $100,382 in federal personal income tax, authorities said.

The case against Testa stems from a federal and state investigation into the corrupt practices related to the renovation of the Connecticut Department of Transportation's offices at Union Station in New Haven.

In early 2003, Testa and Merritt Builders submitted a bid of approximately $282,000 to renovate the offices. At the direction of Raymond Cox, a DOT official, Testa was awarded the job.

Cox helped arrange fake bids to make it look like the project had been subject to competitive bidding, prosecutors said.

Cox and other state employees instructed Testa to buy appliances and other items for the personal use of DOT employees. Testa billed the cost of the items to DOT as part of the renovation project and was reimbursed.

Testa also gave Cox several thousand dollars in cash and billed the payments to taxpayers, authorities said.

Testa faces up to three years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 when he is sentenced on Jan. 5. He also will be required to pay to the Internal Revenue Service back taxes, penalties and interest.

Cox and the other employees have pleaded guilty to federal charges related to the corrupt renovation project. Cox is scheduled to be sentenced on Thursday, while the other two are scheduled to be sentenced in December.

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