A man who worked as a compliance safety and health officer for the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, along with his brother, was caught on “consensual recordings” after soliciting a $6,000 bribe from a North Bergen contractor.
Alvaro Idrovo, 44, of Bloomfield, and Paul Idrovo, also known as Jose Diaz, 46, of Nutley, are both charged by complaint with knowingly and intentionally conspiring to commit an offense against the United States, specifically to commit an act of extortion under color of Idrovo’s office or employment with OSHA, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito said.
The defendants appeared by videoconference before U.S. Magistrate Judge Leda Dunn Wettre.
Idrovo was assigned to investigate an anonymous complaint concerning the misuse of an extension ladder at a North Bergen work site of Company 1.
He told Individual 1, the owner of Company 1, that Individual 1 was in violation of OSHA regulations for not having the necessary safety training certificates for Company 1’s workers to be on ladders at the work site.
Additionally, Idrovo falsely advised Individual 1 that he needed to obtain training certificates with a specific vendor named “Jose Diaz” or Individual 1 would be subject to exorbitant fines and possible arrest for the violation.
Individual 1 contacted the phone number supplied by Alvaro Idrovo, which actually belonged to Paul Idrovo, posing as “Jose Diaz,” who told Individual 1 that the required OSHA training certificates would cost $13,000 in cash.
He also repeated Alvaro Idrovo’s false assertions that if Individual 1 did not get the training certificates that Individual 1 would be in big trouble with OSHA, including big fines and possible jail. In follow-up telephone conversations with Paul Idrovo, Individual 1 was able to negotiate the fee down to $6,000 in cash.
When OSHA officials learned of Idrovo’s attempt to extort Individual 1 while questioning Individual 1 on an unrelated matter, the OSHA officials referred the matter to federal law enforcement officials, who arranged for Individual 1 to make consensual recordings with both Alvaro and Paul Idrovo.
Leading up to the meeting, Paul Idrovo, posing as Diaz, told Individual 1 on an April 15th recorded call that he couldn’t possibly go lower than $6,000 in cash since he was “already doing a favor, they’re requiring you … full protection and one for the ladder.”
He added that “you have to understand, it’s- it’d be $13,000 if I charged for everything separately,” the criminal complaint says.
Then, during an April 22nd meeting surveilled by law enforcement, Individual 1 paid Paul Idrovo $6,000 in cash at a Dunkin Donuts in Nutlet in exchange for ladder and safety awareness training certificates and a safety and health plan.
“They don’t like to do this paperwork. Then, with me, I’m straight up. And I try to help you all so that – their paperwork ends at – at – at one point and it’s over,” he allegedly said during a recorded conversation where he accepted the bribe.
Thereafter, Alvaro Idrovo attached copies of the training certificates and the plan to his OSHA reports regarding Company 1’s violation despite knowing that the training certificates falsely claimed that training had been provided to the noted individuals in March 2020, “Jose Diaz” had provided training, and the alleged training was OSHA certified.
The conspiracy charge carries a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.