Baltimore man pleads guilty to defrauding school system

Water-conditioner maker to pay $347,000 restitution

February 01, 2005|By Lynn Anderson | Lynn Anderson,SUN STAFF

An 80-year-old man indicted in September with his son and a former Baltimore schools maintenance manager on charges of conspiring to defraud the school system of more than $800,000 pleaded guilty yesterday in city Circuit Court.

Baltimore resident Melvin Duklewski, a water-conditioner manufacturer who had done business with the school system for a decade, pleaded guilty to bribery and conspiracy charges, said state Prosecutor Robert A. Rohrbaugh.

Duklewski was sentenced to five years' probation, and ordered to perform 500 hours of community service at local schools and pay $347,000 in restitution, Rohrbaugh said.

"That's the figure we came up with that was due back to the schools by Mr. Duklewski," Rohrbaugh said, adding that other defendants could also be forced to pay restitution.

A lien has been placed on Duklewski's house, Rohrbaugh said.

Reached at his home last night, Duklewski said he had to plead guilty because he doesn't have enough money to pay an attorney to represent him in an extended trial.

"I don't have any money," he said. "I'm on Social Security."

Duklewski's son, James Duklewski, 55, of New Oxford, Pa., who runs an industrial flooring company, was indicted on similar charges and is scheduled for trial in mid-March.

The third defendant, Rajiv Dixit, 52, the former maintenance manager, was accused of embezzling more than $150,000 and helping James Duklewski steal more than $140,000 between 1999 and last year. Dixit's trial has not been scheduled, Rohrbaugh said.

Dixit, a Baltimore resident, left his job March 28 after more than 20 years with the school system. Dixit's brother, Pradeep Dixit, who had been the system's chief of school facilities, also left in March but has not been charged.

Melvin Duklewski has said that Rajiv Dixit began demanding "commissions" from his company, EDM Corp., a few years ago. He said he had to pay the kickbacks or risk losing the school system's business.

Melvin Duklewski said he got his son involved when the school board began pressuring Dixit to find different suppliers of water conditioners. He said he was trying to save the system money and that his competitor charges more than twice his price.

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

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