3 indicted in schools theft scheme

Ex-employee, contractors facing conspiracy charges

September 30, 2004|By Laura Loh | Laura Loh,SUN STAFF

A Baltimore grand jury has indicted a former city school employee and two businessmen on charges that they conspired to defraud the school system of more than $290,000 during a five-year period.

Rajiv Dixit, 52, a former maintenance manager for the school system, is accused of embezzling more than $150,000 and helping a contractor steal more than $140,000 between 1999 and last year, according to the indictment. Charges against him include conspiracy, theft, accepting a bribe, extortion and embezzlement.

Also charged were Melvin Duklewski, 80, of Baltimore and his son, James Duklewski, 55, of New Oxford, Pa.

Melvin Duklewski, a manufacturer of water conditioners who has done business with the system for the last 10 years, is charged with bribery, conspiracy, and aiding and abetting the thefts.

His son, who runs an industrial flooring company in New Oxford, was charged with stealing $140,000 from the school system, conspiracy and aiding and abetting theft.

Dixit, a Baltimore resident who left his job with the system on March 28 last year after more than 20 years, is being held on $1 million bail. A bail review hearing is scheduled for him in Baltimore Circuit Court this afternoon.

City schools chief Bonnie S. Copeland said she referred Dixit's alleged dealings to the state prosecutor's office, which investigates public corruption, shortly after she was hired in April last year.

Dixit's brother, Pradeep Dixit, who had been the system's chief of school facilities, also left the system in March last year. Pradeep Dixit was not named in the indictment.

The Duklewskis have not been arrested. A criminal summons has been issued for Melvin Duklewski, and his son said yesterday he plans to report to court tomorrow. A Nov. 9 arraignment has been set for the three men.

Melvin Duklewski said in an interview that Dixit began demanding "commissions" from his company, EDM Corp., a few years ago. The vendor of magnetic devices that prevent scale buildup in water boilers said he has done about $350,000 in business with the system.

"The man says to me, `You will pay me a commission on the sales,' and that's it," said Duklewski, adding that the school system was his only client in recent years. "I had to do it. ... I'm 80 years old. What am I going to do, run around and make sales?"

He said he got his son involved when the school board began pressuring Dixit to find different suppliers of water conditioners.

Melvin Duklewski said he enlisted his son to bill the system for the devices on his behalf. He said he was trying to save the schools money because his only competitor charged more than twice his price.

James Duklewski said he let his father issue invoices using the name of his company, Ab-Cor Consultants Ltd., but did not profit from the contracts.

"Who knew that I would be getting into all this over helping my dad?" he said. "I'm not an attorney."

Court records show that Ab-Cor Consultants sued the system in February over a contract dispute. But the son said he did not sue the system or give his father permission to sue on his company's behalf.

"It wasn't my business," he said. "I was just helping out my dad."

Sun staff writer Liz Bowie and researcher Jean Packard contributed to this article.

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