Engineer Awaiting Kickback Trial Arrested Again, Facing New Fraud Charges

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A private engineer and former city consultant in Opa-Locka, Florida is facing new fraud charges while still awaiting trial on charges filed in 2008, for having allegedly received more than $700,000 in kickbacks from a construction firm in exchange for a recommendation.

Emmanuel Nwadike, 66, is charged with 18 felonies, including unlawful compensation, official misconduct, extortion, money laundering and others, in the first kickback scandal. In 2005 and 2006, he allegedly awarded approximately $2.4 million in city contracts for a street revitalization project to a company called Hard J Construction, for which he received almost $700,000 in return, according to the Miami Dade State Attorney’s Office.

Now, Nwadike has been arrested on first-degree felony charges of organized scheme to defraud, money laundering, grand theft and third-degree fraud.

The current arrest affidavit accuses Nwadike of using a friend’s Social Security number to set up an engineering company, General Design Partners, as well as bank accounts for it, using as a street address a residential building belonging to Nwadike’s wife Naomi.

According to the affidavit, he

Nwadike then bid on the design and development of a community center—a contract that he had previously won, but which had been revoked after his arrest. The city manager awarded the contract to GDP, which had submitted the low bid of $98,000—much lower than the $330,000 and $500,000 bids submitted by other firms. Prosecutors say that the friend, a janitor and preacher named Obukhari Nkonneh, then funneled over $100,000 to Nwadike.

When it was revealed that GDP was a front for Nwadike, all five city commissioners said that the would not have awarded the contract to that firm had they known. City and federal officials had sent notification to Nwadike after his 2008 arrest informing him that he was ineligible to work on any of their projects.

Nwadike’s attorney, Ben Kuehne, maintains that his client did help the burgeoning company, but that he did not act illegally in doing so.

“He did not cross any boundaries and acted as a reputable engineer should,” said Kuehne. “He is innocent, presumed innocent and still allowed to act in a lawful manner, including working for an honest living.”

This is not the first time that Nwadike, or Opa-Locka city officials, have been implicated in kickback scandals. In 2007, almost a year before Nwadike’s first arrest, then-commissioner Terence Pinder was accused of accepting gifts and cash from an employee of a construction company that Nwadike had recommended.

 

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