News & Thought

Jaroslaw Wins Stunningly Reduced Sentence for Navillus Client

In a stunning reduction from a federal Sentencing Guidelines range of 70 to 87 months’ imprisonment, Elliott Kwok Levine & Jaroslaw LLP partner Ilene Jaroslaw secured a sentence of six months for her client, the former owner and president of a New York construction company.

Dónal O’Sullivan, who immigrated to the U.S. from Kerry, Ireland, in the 1980s, epitomized the American rags-to-riches story, building Navillus (Sullivan spelled backward) from a small tile subcontractor into a major New York construction firm, responsible for the construction of One Vanderbilt, the 9/11 Memorial, and the new Stuyvesant High School, among other prominent projects. O’Sullivan, his sister, Helen, who administered payroll at Navillus, and the company’s former financial controller, were convicted at trial of perpetrating a multiyear payroll scheme to defraud six union benefits funds of $1.2 million in contractually required payments. Notably, Navillus was one of the city’s biggest contributors to union benefits funds during the time period covered by the indictment, during which the company paid more than $140 million to the same six funds.

Jaroslaw joined the O’Sullivan’s case for the sentencing phase after her client had been convicted at trial of 11 felony counts, for which the applicable range under the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines provided for a sentence as high as 7+ years.

According to the Irish Examiner, in sentencing the O’Sullivans “at Brooklyn’s main courthouse, district court judge Pamela Chen said she had taken into account the huge volume of letters (344) of support submitted on behalf of the defendants ‘perhaps the most letters I have ever received’ in relation to any case, outlining ‘extraordinary acts of kindness and generosity’ shown by the two, not just to family and friends, but to strangers.”

“My client was always one of the best and kindest employers in the industry, and he has always supported unions and helped non-union workers join unions,” Jaroslaw said. “Donal is an extraordinary person who, throughout his life, has selflessly helped others in both Ireland and the United States through acts of kindness and extraordinary generosity, in ways both small and meaningful, and large and impactful.

“Our firm came into the case after the jury verdict, so relitigating the conviction was not an option. All we could do was make impassioned pleas and build a case for sentencing. We did this by obtaining the testimony of expert witnesses and numerous first-person accounts of Donal’s kindness and generosity, through persuasive briefing, and with our and Donal’s statements to the court at the sentencing. The sentence that was handed down by Judge Chen was truly the best outcome we could have hoped for.”