Man pleads guilty to paying bribe to get Edelweiss contract
A Long Island man has pleaded guilty to bribing his way into a lucrative contract to sell linens and curtains to the Edelweiss Lodge and Resort in Garmisch, Germany.
Ellis Abramson, 40, of Merrick, N.Y., the owner of Bramson House in Freeport, N.Y., admitted to paying and offering $63,000 in bribes to Edelweiss’ former director of contracting to secure the contract.
Abramson also pleaded guilty to traveling overseas to facilitate the bribes. He faces up to five years in prison.
Assistant Attorney General Alice S. Fisher of the Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Roslynn R. Mauskopf of the Eastern District of New York made the announcement Friday.
Edelweiss, an Army-owned luxury hotel in the Bavarian Alps near the Austrian border, opened in September 2004 at a cost of $80 million. The hotel is used by Defense Department employees and family members, and offers special discounts to troops who served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and their family members.
The Edelweiss, also known as Armed Forces Recreation Center-Europe, is operated by the Department of the Army for the Defense Department.
According to court documents, Abramson hosted the Edelweiss employee — called “John Doe” in the court papers — in December 2003 in New York, where the two agreed that Abramson would fraudulently inflate the price that the Army would pay to Abramson for bedding hardware, fabric and draperies.
Abramson would then receive a higher payment for his products than the actual price, and in turn pay the Edelweiss official from the difference.
In August 2004, according to court documents, Abramson traveled to Garmisch to pay $6,500 in European Union currency to the official.
Also charged in the case are former Edelweiss employee Steven G. Potoski and Alvan Vance McQueen of Shelbyville, Ind., president and owner of Flat Rock Furniture. The two were not named in the public information court documents released Friday by the Justice Department.
The cases against Potoski and McQueen are still open and being investigated, according to Justice Department spokesman Drew Wade. Potoski is believed to be cooperating in the investigation, according to published news reports.
McQueen was accused of paying $45,000 in cash, plus other enticements, to Potoski. Potoski was arrested in September and accused of accepting $350,000 total in cash and gifts from one British, two U.S. and 12 German contractors.