A compliance safety and health officer (CSHO) with the U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and his brother face charges that they conspired to extort $6,000 in cash from a general contractor, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.
Alvaro Idrovo, 44,from Bloomfield, and Paul Idrovo, also known as “Jose Diaz,” 46, from Nutley, are charged by complaint with knowingly and intentionally conspiring to commit an act of extortion through Alvaro Idrovo’s office or employment with OSHA.
The defendants appeared by videoconference before U.S. Magistrate Judge Leda Dunn Wettre.
Extortion in North Bergen
According to the complaint, Alvaro Idrovo was assigned to investigate an anonymous complaint concerning the misuse of an extension ladder at a North Bergen worksite of Company 1.
According to the complaint, Alvaro Idrovo allegedly told Individual 1, owner of Company 1, that Individual 1 was in violation of OSHA regulations for not having the necessary safety training certificates for Company 1’s workers to be on ladders at the worksite.
Alvaro Idrovo allegedly falsely advised Individual 1 that he needed to obtain training certificates with a specific vendor named “Jose Diaz,” or Individual 1 would be subject to exorbitant fines and possible arrest for the violation, according to the complaint.
Individual 1 contacted the phone number supplied by Alvaro Idrovo. According to the complaint, the number actually belonged to Paul Idrovo, posing as “Jose Diaz,” who allegedly told Individual 1 that the required OSHA training certificates would cost $13,000 in cash.
Paul Idrovo allegedly repeated Alvaro Idrovo’s false assertions that if Individual 1 did not get the training certificates, Individual 1 would be in trouble with OSHA, including owing large fines and doing possible jail time. In followup phone conversations with Paul Idrovo, Individual 1 was able to negotiate the fee down to $6,000 in cash.
Caught in the act
When OSHA officials learned of Idrovo’s attempt to extort Individual 1 while questioning Individual 1 on an unrelated matter, OSHA officials referred the matter to federal law enforcement officials, who arranged for Individual 1 to make consensual recordings with both Alvaro and Paul Idrovo.
During an April meeting surveilled by law enforcement, Individual 1 paid Paul Idrovo $6,000 in cash in exchange for ladder and safety awareness training certificates and a safety and health plan.
Alvaro Idrovo attached copies of the training certificates and the plan to his OSHA reports regarding Company 1’s violation, He did this, despite knowing that the training certificates falsely claimed that training had been provided to the noted individuals in March 2020. They also claimed falsely that Jose Diaz had provided training, and the alleged training was OSHA certified.
The conspiracy charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael C. Mikulka in New York; and special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr. in Newark, with the investigation leading to the charges.
The government is represented by Senior Trial Counsel Leslie Faye Schwartz, of the United States Attorney’s Office’s Special Prosecutions Division.
The charges and allegations in the complaint are merely accusations. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
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