Former B&B President Sentenced to 24 Months in Prison

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The former president of B&B Construction & Development Inc. on Tuesday was sentenced to 24 months in federal prison for stealing nearly $2 million from the company.

Philip Beshara was also ordered to pay $1.95 million in restitution, more than $1.4 million of that to B&B, according to the sentence passed down by Judge J. Philip Calabrese in U.S. District Court in Cleveland.

Beshara, along with ex-B&B Treasurer Sam DeCaria, were charged Oct. 5, 2022, with one count of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The pair pleaded guilty to the charges a week later.

Once Beshara has served his sentence, he will undergo a three-year parole in which he is prohibited from entering a gambling establishment or gambling.

“He can’t step foot into any casino, racetrack or any place whose primary business is gambling,” said Martin Desmond, who along with Nick Sebastiani, are attorneys representing B&B. Both were present at the sentencing.

The hearing began at noon and ended at approximately 2:20 p.m., Desmond said.

DeCaria is to be sentenced July 13 in Cleveland.

Desmond said that B&B believes the sentence is fair.

“They’re satisfied with the outcome,” Desmond said, noting several B&B employees were present in the courtroom. “They’re looking forward to putting this all behind them and continuing to rebuild and grow the company.”

Desmond said Beshara remains free on bond and will self-report to a designation where he will be assigned to a federal penitentiary.

Beshara, a Florida resident, requested that he be assigned to a federal prison in Pensacola, and Calabrese noted he would make that recommendation.

“The company would like to thank Wallace Sines, special agent, for his investigation and pursuit of this matter, and to Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Katz for prosecuting this matter,” Desmond said.

Beshara accepted full responsibility and apologized for his actions, Desmond noted.

According to the bill of information that was filed in October, Beshara and DeCaria engaged in a conspiracy that diverted funds from B&B business accounts to Beshara’s personal account.  

Prosecutors showed 44 transactions between March 7, 2008, and June 14, 2016, totaling $1,599,598.95 that transferred to Beshara. Prosecutors also said Beshara oversaw invoices submitted by subcontractors who worked on construction projects managed by B&B. 

According to the government, Beshara “would cause others to inflate subcontractors’ invoices” so that those contractors would overcharge B&B. Beshara would then have those subcontractors kick back to him a portion of the inflated amount, the court filing says.

The government showed 49 transactions between March 3, 2006, and Feb. 5, 2016, where Beshara received a total of $345,367 from inflated invoices.

DeCaria, as treasurer, was also charged because he managed the financial accounts and facilitated the scheme, prosecutors say.

Beshara emerged as a central figure in the state’s prosecution five years ago of developer Dominic Marchionda, former Youngstown Mayor Charles Sammarone and former Youngstown Finance Director David Bozanich on corruption charges.

The indictment, filed in 2018, mentioned several “John Does” involved in the case. John Does 1 and 3 were subsequently identified as Beshara and DeCaria.

Another entity, named as “Company 1,” was later revealed as B&B.

Beshara testified in 2020 that he gave Bozanich $20,000 in an envelope at a restaurant in 2009. At the time, B&B served as the general contractor on the Flats at Wick project, and Marchionda was the developer.

The city subsequently awarded the project a $1.2 million development grant from its water/wastewater fund.

Bozanich pleaded guilty in July 2020 to two counts of unlawful enrichment of a public official and two felony counts of bribery and tampering with records.

None of those counts were related to the alleged $20,000 payment or Beshara’s testimony, since Judge Maureen Sweeney ordered his testimony stricken from the court record.

Bozanich was sentenced to a year in prison.

Marchionda also used B&B and Beshara for the Erie Terminal project downtown. Marchionda pleaded guilty to four counts of records tampering in July 2020 and received five years’ probation.

Earlier that year, Sammarone pleaded to reduced charges of two counts of tampering with records. He received five years’ probation.

In 2017 and 2018, Liberty Township-based B&B filed civil complaints in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court against Beshara and other former employees, accusing them of theft, records tampering and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity. 

Those lawsuits were settled in 2020, allowing the company to continue as a going concern.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.