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Former Gross Employee Pleads Guilty

Last week, Walter 'Wally" Heinrich Weiss, 61, of Niagara Falls, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara to conspiring to make a false statement in a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) transaction. The charge carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison, a fine of $100,000.00, or both.

Weiss was an employee of John Gross at David Gross Contracting Inc.

The charge arose out of a March 24, 2009 water main break which flooded several streets in the City of Niagara Falls. Following the flood, the Niagara Falls Department of Community Development notified homeowners they might qualify to receive HUD grant funds to cover repairs caused by the flood and to obtain bids from more than one contractor. One homeowner contacted Gross Contracting. In addition to submitting its own bid for repair work, Gross, with Weiss participating, submitted a false, higher bid for repairs from another company. Gross got the job and was paid $2,545 in HUD money.

The U. S. Attorney's office said Gross would maintain blank letterheads for various competitors.

Weiss admitted he knew that such documents would from time to time be used by employees of Gross in order to prepare false and fraudulent bids for jobs. He also admitted using blank letterhead from Gross’ competitors to submit fake contract bids to HUD.

Weiss is married to Niagara County GOP Executive Committee Member Patti Weiss, who is a secretary at the Niagara County IDA. He is also the father of school teacher and Niagara County Conservative Party Chairman Dan Weiss.

Defense lawyer Joseph M. LaTona said his client “accepted full responsibility for his misconduct while an employee of Gross Contracting."

John Gross, a well-known Niagara Falls contractor, was sentenced in 2012 to 33 months in prison for mail fraud and tax evasion. Gross has completed his sentence.

Sentencing for Weiss is scheduled for June 23, 2014, at 12:30 p.m. before Judge Arcara.



Niagara Falls Reporter - Publisher Frank Parlato Jr. www.niagarafallsreporter.com

Mar 18, 2014