U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of New York
(716) 843-5700
June 23, 2014

Niagara Falls Contractor Sentenced for Conspiring to Defraud HUD

BUFFALO, NY—U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced today that Walter Heinrich Weiss, 61, of Niagara Falls, N.Y., who was convicted of conspiring to make a false statement in a HUD transaction, was sentenced to one year of probation by U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara.

Assistant U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr., who handled the case, stated that the defendant was an employee of John Gross at David Gross Contracting, Inc. (Gross Contracting). Weiss conspired with John Gross and other employees of Gross Contracting to prepare and submit false and fraudulent bids and estimates which purported to be from competitors of Gross Contracting. Specifically, the employees would maintain, within their offices, and on their computers, blank letterhead for various competing companies. The letterhead was used to prepare false and fraudulent estimates and/or job bids which were higher than bids submitted by Gross Contracting.

In one instance, following significant flooding which resulted from a water main break during the spring of 2009, a Niagara Falls resident contacted Gross Contracting for an estimate for repair work on the resident’s home. Unbeknownst to the homeowner, Gross Contracting, in addition to its own bid, also submitted a false and fraudulent bid which appeared to be from a competitor. The fake bid was submitted with the intention of manipulating and defrauding the HUD grant program that was ultimately used to pay Gross Contracting’s $2,545.00 bill for the repairs.

In January 2012, John Gross was sentenced to 33 months in prison.

The sentencing is the culmination of an investigation on the part of Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division, under the direction of Shantelle P. Kitchen, Acting Special Agent in Charge, New York Field Office.

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