3 dozen charged in utilities fraud scheme

Thirty-seven people, including employees of National Grid, have been charged in connection with a scheme that authorities say put many Brooklyn residents' lives in danger.



National Grid employee Weldon Al Findlay allegedly created a shadow utility company and charged landlords of new or renovated properties an average of $1,500 to set up illegal accounts and gas service, prosecutors say.



Prosecutors accuse him of doing this through contacts at National Grid.



These unauthorized accounts also bypassed building inspections that ensure gas lines are safe to operate, authorities say.



If a leak goes undetected, the result can be catastrophic, says Eric Gonzalez, the acting district attorney. As News 12 has reported, a gas leak in the Bronx last year led to an explosion that killed an FDNY chief.



Other suspects include landlords and contractors.



National Grid says it has zero tolerance for this kind of fraud and is working hand-in-hand with regulators. The Department of Inspections has issued a list of steps it expects the utility company to take in response to the accusations.



The most serious charges include seven counts of enterprise corruption, which carries a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison.


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