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Henry Chlupsa

Other New York County, New York exonerations
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In February 2018, a New York County grand jury indicted 13 people and nine companies on charges of bribery and corrupting a government official in what District Attorney Cy Vance said were “three separate schemes involving bribery, business fraud, and political campaign contributions.”

Among those indicted was then-75-year-old Henry Chlupsa, the former president of D&B Engineers and Architects P.C. The company also was indicted.

The indictment charged that between 2007 and 2016, Ifeanyi “Manny” Madu, who was a mid-level manager at the New York City Department of Environment Protection (DEP), passed confidential information about millions of dollars in city contracts for maintenance work on New York’s water system. The indictment accused Chlupsa and the other defendants of using the information—documents that described the scopes of work, schedules for upcoming contracts, non-public cost estimates, and information about individual contract selection committee members—so that the companies could get the contracts.

In return, Madu was given “extravagant meals, gifts, hotel stays, Broadway show tickets, employment opportunities for his relatives, charitable donations to organizations he managed, and—most significantly—the award of more than $7.5 million in subcontracts to companies that were affiliated with Madu,” Vance said in a press release announcing the charges. Those businesses were owned or operated by members of Madu’s family or close friends, the indictment charged.

In October 2019, Chlupsa went to trial in New York County Supreme Court. He chose to have his case decided by a judge without a jury. Madu, who pled guilty and cooperated with the prosecution, testified that he provided information to Chlupsa and in return was provided with gifts and other benefits.

On November 12, 2019, Supreme Court Justice Thomas Farber acquitted Chlupsa of the first-degree charge of corrupting a government official and four counts of first-degree bribery charged in the indictment. Judge Farber convicted Chlupsa of one count of second-degree bribery, three counts of third-degree bribery, and one count of fourth-degree corruption of a government official. Chlupsa was fined $15,000 and placed on probation for five years. In addition, D&B forfeited $3.8 million of which $1.5 million went to the New York County District Attorney’s Office.

On January 21, 2020, the lead prosecutor in the case, Diana Florence, submitted her resignation from the District Attorney’s Office. This followed the public disclosure of a 38-minute audio recording of Madu telling the New York Department of Investigation while he was under oath that he broke no laws, did not take gifts, things of value or bribes from contractors.

The disclosure was made to lawyers for another defendant, Kyriacos Pierides, a former associate vice president of Black & Veatch, a Kansas City engineering firm. At the time, Pierides was awaiting trial.

On January 24, 2020, Nelson Boxer, attorney for Chlupsa, moved to vacate Chlupsa’s convictions based on the failure to disclose the tape prior to Chlupsa’s trial, arguing that the tape could have been used to challenge Madu’s credibility as a witness. At a hearing that same day in the Pierides case, Florence, who would leave the office almost immediately after, said that she had become involved in the case in October of 2015, eight months after the Madu tape was recorded. She conceded that “it was absolutely a mistake not to turn those things over,” but claimed that “I did not know about the tape, however, and that interview, I was not aware of until very, very recently. And when I discovered that it existed, I immediately agreed that we should turn it over.”

On January 27, 2020, the District Attorney’s Office provided the tape to Boxer.

On February 5, 2020, New York Supreme Court Justice Michael Obus dismissed the charges against Pierides, saying that the prosecution’s explanation for the failure to disclose the information was “troubling and inadequate” and that the disclosure failure was “staggering.”

The following day, Assistant District Attorney Kenneth Moore, who took over the case, informed Boxer that in about a week, the prosecution intended to produce approximately 150,000 emails and attachments from Madu’s email accounts. He said that nearly four terabytes of data recovered from Madu-affiliated entities and individuals would not be disclosed for several weeks. On February 25, some of those materials were turned over.

Included in these documents were summaries of interviews with Robert DiGiorgio, a former vice president of D&B Engineers and an important potential defense witness, which, Boxer contended, contained “evidence of a noncorrupt, legitimate business endeavor.” “By suppressing those statements from a senior D&B executive with extensive DEP interaction and responsibilities, the [prosecution] knowingly and purposefully hid critical…evidence that undermined its proof of Mr. Chlupsa’s corrupt intent.”

On May 4, 2020, the prosecution filed a motion agreeing to vacate the conviction. The prosecution said that because the lesser charges were not contained in the indictment, there was no indictment to dismiss. In addition, the prosecution would not seek any charges against Chlupsa.

On May 19, 2020, the DA’s Office voluntarily dismissed the companion civil forfeiture action that was brought against Chlupsa at the time of his arrest.

On June 2, 2020, Justice Farber vacated Chlupsa’s convictions and the case was dismissed.

Justice Farber noted that the prosecution’s proof at trial, “which was supported by e-mails, accounting documents and testimony from cooperating witnesses, showed that [Chlupsa] and D&B, among other things, took Madu to lunches, dinners, Broadway shows; paid for his hotel rooms during conferences; bought tables at Madu-sponsored charity events and hired-at Madu's request-subcontractors from Madu controlled companies.”

Just Farber also noted that the “evidence did not show, beyond a reasonable doubt, that [Chlupsa] knew that Madu was involved with these companies.” In addition, Justice Farber said in his order, “Madu testified as a cooperating witness. I did not find his testimony compelling for many reasons. Notably, the [prosecution’s] financial records showed that Madu’s fraud was way more far-reaching than his testimony admitted.”

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 6/26/2020
Last Updated: 6/26/2020
State:New York
County:New York
Most Serious Crime:Bribery
Additional Convictions:Other Nonviolent Felony
Reported Crime Date:2016
Convicted:2019
Exonerated:2020
Sentence:Probation
Race:White
Sex:Male
Age at the date of reported crime:73
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No