A former supervisor with the city's Office of Fleet Management pleaded guilty Thursday to theft and conspiracy related to a scam that bilked the city of more than $400,000.
Robert Otterson, 50, of the 1900 block of South 30th Street, in South Philadelphia, also pleaded guilty to theft in a separate case in which he stole items from city inventory — including car parts, police strobe lights and Porta-Potties. He sold some items on Craigslist.
In 2010, Otterson helped reputed mob associate Ronald Galati Sr. and Galati's son, Ronald Jr., who both ran a South Philly auto-body shop, fraudulently obtain a contract to repair city vehicles even though the shop did not have a required piece of equipment — a certain type of welder. At the time, Otterson, who began working for the city in June 1989, was a Fleet Management team leader at the city's auto-body shop at 11th and Reed Streets in South Philly.
The Office of Fleet Management, created in 1993, manages all police, fire, maintenance and other city vehicles. Otterson was responsible for deciding whether a car should be repaired at the city shop at 11th and Reed or at a contract shop.
Galati Sr., who ran the American Collision & Auto Center shop at 1930 S. 20th St. in South Philly, fraudulently inflated repair and labor costs on city vehicles and Otterson approved the inflated costs, according to a grand jury presentment. Galati Sr. would then share proceeds with Otterson.
Galati Sr., 65 — who was sentenced to 22 years in federal prison for trying to have his daughter's then-boyfriend killed in Atlantic City in November 2013 — pleaded no contest last week to corrupt organizations, theft, and related charges in a widespread insurance-fraud case he spearheaded. His fraudulent contract with the city was just one part of the fraud case.
His son, Ronald Jr., 38, pleaded guilty to corrupt organizations and related charges. They are to be sentenced Dec. 9.