Former ConnDOT manager fined in fraud case

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A former Connecticut Department of Transportation project manager recently was sentenced to probation and ordered to pay restitution and fines after pleading guilty to charges of theft of federal programs.

Saverio Sereno, of Coventry, who served as project manager for the New Haven Union Station renovation project, was sentenced Dec. 13 to three years probation and ordered to pay $6,404 in restitution and a $2,000 fine in U.S. District Court in New Haven for his July guilty plea.

The Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General said an investigation revealed that Sereno — along with his supervisor, Raymond Cox — instructed the owner of Merritt Builders, a contractor doing business with ConnDOT, to purchase big-screen televisions, refrigerators and other items for the benefit of ConnDOT employees, with the understanding that the expenses would be billed to ConnDOT under the renovation project.

Merritt Builders was awarded the $300,000 project to renovate New Haven Union Station in 2003, according to DOT-OIG; Sereno also directed the company’s owner to pay $3,000 in cash to a contractor to prepare fake bids for the renovation project. Sereno was placed on administrative leave and subsequently resigned, said DOT-OIG, who was assisted in the probe by the FBI and the IRS’ Criminal Investigations Division, with assistance from ConnDOT.