City continues freebies probe

Five different city contractors - Verizon, Comcast, Shared Technologies, Motorola and RCC Consultants - provided reports to the city's inspector general on their wining and dining of city employees, part of the probe that led to the firing last week of Joseph James Sr., a top official in the city's Division of Technology.

James had accepted 39 business-related meals from the five companies over a four-year period, violating executive orders issued by mayors John Street and Michael Nutter, according to inspector general Amy Kurland.

A former city employee, deputy public property commissioner Francis G. Punzo, now with Verizon, was accused of accepting 122 meals from the same group of vendors, and a third city worker, Concetta D. Lilli-Pearson, was suspended for 20 days for accepting two meals and a couple of iPods.

But what about other city employees? Did any others accept meals or other gifts from the five contractors?

"They might have, and that is why our investigation is continuing," Kurland says, declining to provide any additional details.
The contractors themselves are even more circumspect.

Verizon declined to identify any other recipients of its largesse, while spokesmen for Comcast, Shared Technologies and Motorola said only that they'd cooperated fully with the city's investigation - a requirement of their city contracts, according to Kurland.

A spokesman for RCC Consultants said that if the firm had taken any city employees out to lunch, it would have billed the city for reimbursement, as it did for "a few working lunches with Mr. James."

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