Sources: Plumber billed city for highly-skilled labor but often used cheap workers

Posted at 7:42 PM, Mar 29, 2013
and last updated 2013-03-30 14:54:59-04

Norfolk, Va. - Construction workers cooperating with federal investigators told them Norfolk plumber Andrew T. Zoby Jr. billed the city for repairs done by highly skilled workers, but most often used lower-priced regular laborers for the job, sources told NewsChannel 3.

According to the sources, Zoby kept the difference in pay rates leading to an overbilling of taxpayers. Federal authorities say Zoby spent nearly $40,000 in cash and services to bribe a pair of city workers in exchange for city jobs. The court documents say Zoby made back that money with "fraudulent invoices" submitted for payment.

Zoby's pricing agreement with the city dictated the highest rates were paid to workers with credentials such as journeymen, plumbers and master plumbers. According to city documents released to NewsChannel 3, work by a "master plumber" was billed to the city at $40 an hour, four times more than a less-skilled worker like a "plumber's helper." A master plumber's overtime rate was billed to the city as $60 per hour.

Asked about the sources' claims, Zoby's attorney James Broccoletti said in an email: "He has no such charges pending nor are any further federal charges expected. No such allegations are present in the matters now pending."

The federal documents have not identified either city worker under investigation. They are referred to only as "Person A" and "Person B." Sources told NewsChannel 3 "Person A" is no longer working for the city, but "Person B" is. Sources identified "Person B" as longtime city worker Patrick Lambert, a supervisor at the city's energy plant. On Thursday when NewsChannel 3 asked Lambert about the bribery case, he would only say "no comment." He has not been charged with any crime.

Zoby has not yet been summoned to federal court. Lawyers in the federal system said that because Zoby is charged under something called "criminal information" and not indictment, that indicates Zoby is likely cooperating with authorities. No one else has been charged in this case.


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