Former Simon exec pleads guilty to fraud in kickback scheme

Former Simon Property Group Inc. executive Mark Palombaro pleaded guilty Monday to a single count of mail fraud in connection with a construction kickback scheme, which federal prosecutors say netted him $766,000.

Palombaro, a 55-year-old Carmel resident, faces a likely 18-month prison sentence under a plea agreement after admitting to his role in a scheme that also involved a Pennsylvania-based construction company, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Palombaro pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court of Western Pennsylvania.

Palombaro was senior vice president of development at Simon in the mid-2000s when he solicited kickbacks from R.E. Crawford Construction Inc. of Springdale, Pa., for helping the firm obtain contracts to build two malls, prosecutors alleged.

Prosecutors said Palombaro steered projects in Seattle and Laguna Hills, Calif., worth a total of $15 million, to the construction firm, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

The Pennsylvania contractor paid Palombaro $766,000 through his company Abby Inc.

Palombaro reached a settlement with Simon in 2010 after the firm grew suspicious and discovered the scheme in an audit.

U.S. District Judge David S. Cercone set Palombaro’s sentencing for March 3. Palombaro remains free on a $10,000 unsecured bond, according to the Tribune-Review.

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