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.