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Stoneham cop, contractor brother arrested in alleged energy-efficiency kickback scheme

A full-time Stoneham police officer and his brother, an electrical contractor, were arrested today on charges they bribed a Mass Save contractor to obtain some $36 million worth of consumer-funded energy-improvement work, including work for which they had no previous experience.

In an indictment unsealed today, Joseph Ponzo, 48, of Stoneham, and his brother, Christopher Ponzo, 47, of North Reading, allegedly paid the contract funneler, who was not named in the indictment tens of thousands of dollars in bribes, in both cash and in "in kind" benefits, including $1,000 weekly payments, a John Deere tractor, a computer, home bathroom fixtures and free electrical work, to procure the work to improve home energy efficiency through the installation of such things as new heating and cooling systems and insulation. Both Ponzos were formally charged with one count of wire fraud conspiracy and twelve counts of wire fraud, , the US Attorney's office reports.

In one such instance, according to the indictment, the associate helped Joseph Ponzo set up a company, Air Tight, to do insulation work and get approved as a Company A contractor under the Mass Save program. Joseph Ponzo put his spouse’s name on Air Tight incorporation documents and contracting licenses in order to conceal his involvement in his corrupt side business. It is alleged Joseph Ponzo collected millions of funds under the Mass Save program through this contract, despite having no professional experience in residential insulation work.

Mass Save collects several hundred million dollars a year through an "energy efficiency" surcharge levied against utility customers in Massachusetts. It then use the money to pay for or subsidize home energy-efficiency projects.

The brothers face up to 20 years in federal prison if convicted.

Innocent, etc.

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Comments

a Ponzo Scheme?

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Voting closed 29

Then, yes, the plural would be Ponzi (bonus fun fact: Ponzi was a Boston boy, at least until he was deported back to Italy).

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Voting closed 29

Another fun fact: some nouns that are masculine in Romance languages, are feminine in the plural and vice versa. Rarely, but it happens.

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Voting closed 14

'Cause that'a a whole lotta cheese for just the two of them.

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Voting closed 24

Adam, I admire your remarkable restraint in not using “ponzo scheme” anywhere in this piece, and only implying it. Can’t have been easy.

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Voting closed 29

I thought about it.

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Voting closed 43

Cops should be held to a higher standard, not lower, as is usually the case.

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Voting closed 48

its called a ponzo scheme.

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Voting closed 20

Do you really need a license to install insulation? Really? It's not like you need a license to jam pink fiberglass foam into walls.

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Voting closed 12

insulation installed badly in this state's very old very leaky homes can cause lots of issues with mold and moisture. the state subsidizes/offsets the cost of doing this for homeowners so the last thing they need is to get dragged to court because "MassSave told me I needed this insulation and they sent the guy to do it and now half my walls have mold in them"

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Voting closed 12

Did they actually perform the work? How was its quality?

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Voting closed 13