Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Feds say contractor attacked FBI agent

MINORITY FRAUD PROBE | Franklin Park firm was being served with search warrant

July 22, 2008

The owner of a Franklin Park construction company has been charged with assaulting a federal agent who was attempting to execute a search warrant as part of a joint city-federal investigation of alleged minority business fraud.

John Esposito, owner of National Concrete Pipe in the near west suburb, is accused of "pushing, rushing at and engaging in a physical struggle" with Special FBI Agent Brian Etchell last Thursday.

Federal agents had arrived at National Concrete to investigate allegations that the company had lied about its minority subcontractors to satisfy the City of Chicago's minority set-aside requirement.

According to an affidavit filed by FBI agent Alan W. Reiner, who accompanied Etchell, the agents asked Esposito during a "voluntary interview" whether "another business was acting as a fraudulent minority business enterprise, functioning as an improper pass-through" for National Concrete Pipe.

Esposito reportedly denied the allegation and invited the agents to follow him to "an outdoor area on the grounds of his business to show us what he claimed was inventory belonging to the MBE," the affidavit states.

When Etchell pointed to what appeared to be a new sign and asked how long it had been there, Esposito reportedly used a profanity and pushed the agent.

"Esposito then rushed at Special Agent Etchell. Esposito was then on top of Special Agent Etchell on the ground. The two continued to struggle," Reiner's affidavit states.

"I jumped on Esposito and attempted to pull him off. Several workers of the business then arrived and assisted me in separating" the two men. The attack reportedly left Etchell with only minor injuries.

The affidavit says federal agents "had received information as part of the FBI investigation that the sign and the inventory area supposedly belonging to the MBE had been recently added in response to an interview from a representative from another government agency."

Esposito could not be reached.

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