Friends shocked over arrest of NYC Fil-Am CEO


NEW YORK CITY – Friends of Rodolfo "Rudy" Quiambao were shocked and saddened by published reports that the quiet and well-respected CEO of Rudell & Associates was recently arrested on bribery charges.

Forbes Magazine reported in its June 5 issue that Quiambao, “the owner of an electrical-design company called Rudell & Associates, paid 3 Con Edison managers more than $6.9 million in bribes and kickbacks over the past decade, according to a complaint filed in US District Court in Brooklyn."

The report quoted Currie, acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, as saying, "For more than a decade, Rodolfo Quiambao allegedly played dirty to make sure he received the contracts, and millions of dollars, that he wanted. And, ordinary New Yorkers, who rely on Con Ed for electricity, gas, and steam, bore the costs.”

Rudy and his wife Connie, a dentist, are a “very nice couple,” said one of their friends who asked not to be identified for this report. “They’re very quiet, mabait sila (they're kind). They’re not masungit (cranky), not show-offs,” said this long-time associate. “We are all shocked.”

The Forbes report said that in 2009, federal authorities arrested 10 Con Edison supervisors in connection with contractor kickback schemes: “The supervisors had received about $1 million in kickbacks from contractors in exchange for approving padded invoices.

“Despite these arrests, Quiambao continued to give monthly payments ranging from tens of thousands of dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars to at least one Con Edison manager until 2011. 

The monthly payments paid off for Quiambao’s company, which received $30 million from Con Edison between 2009 and 2011. The kickback scheme ended in 2011 when Sassine Razzouk, a section manager at Con Edison, was arrested in 2011 and pleaded guilty to taking bribes from Quiambao’s company. Razzouk also pleaded guilty to three counts of tax evasion.”

Quiambao and his wife were active in the Filipino American community around the 1980s, known to many as accomplished professionals and close friends of former President Cory Aquino and her late husband Ninoy.

The two couples are said to have struck a friendship in Boston where the Aquinos lived in exile from 1980 to 1983. Whenever Cory Aquino, who became president in 1986, came to New York, she was known to spend time in Rudy and Connie’s residence in Bayside, Queens.

“They were very close to Cory,” said a friend who spoke to The FilAm. “They were behind the setting up of the Benigno Aquino Triangle.” The Triangle is a cultural park located in Hollis, Queens.

I met the couple in 2003 and interviewed them for Philippine News, when I was the paper’s managing editor.

Quiambao is a graduate of civil engineering from Mapua Institute of Technology. He and his wife moved to the US in the 1970s at a time, he said, “when it was tough to be a minority in this country.”

He began working with Cahn Engineers, known as the largest civil engineering company in Connecticut at the time. He also worked for aircraft manufacturer Boeing Co. at its facility outside of Seattle.

The couple moved to New York in 1973. Quiambao spent 12 years with Treadwell Corpation, a company in New Jersey that designs and manufactures oxygen generation equipment for the US Navy.

He took a break after leaving Treadwell and decided, after one year of weighing his options, “it was time” to start his own company. Rudell & Associates was launched in 1988 with a staff of two people, at an office located on the floor above Connie’s dental clinic.

“I have always wanted to form a company, and felt I was ready,” he recalled. “My wife was adamant at first, but I told her if I failed at least I failed knowing I tried.”

The World Trade Center 7 was one of the high-value projects of Rudell, he said. The John F. Kennedy International Airport and the New York Post publication office were also among other big-name projects. By this time in early 2000, his company had about 50 employees, many of them Filipinos. He said he was always conscious about maintaining high standards and integrity of his company. “If our competitors were giving 100%, we try to give our clients 200% satisfaction,” he asserted.

At the height of their success, the couple was very popular and quite visible in community events. As a matter of fact, Quiambao became a Grand Marshall of the Philippine Independence Day Parade in 2004. They were known as a couple who had a soft spot for Filipinos in need.

The beneficiaries of their generosity were the Filipino engineers, whom Quiambao had lamented as among “the most neglected” professionals. He founded the Filipino American Association of Engineers, Incorporated envisioning it to be a training guild and networking group.

The Quiambaos are a simple couple, not lavish at all, according to their friends.

If there is one “guilty pleasure,” it is spoiling their dog Peachy, now deceased. A friend remembered getting an invitation from Rudy and Connie, who are childless, to Peachy’s birthday party many years ago. It was a typical party with food and entertainment and celebrated in the company of their friends and well-heeled guests.

“They’re a very nice couple,” said Inquirer.net reporter Elton Lugay. “They were among the first people who welcomed me warmly to New York when I was new here in 2007. I will never forget their kindness.”

The FilAm contacted the family by email, but got no reply. We learned however that Mr. Quiambao will issue a press statement at the appropriate time. – Rappler.com 

This story was republished with permission from The FilAm, a content partner of Rappler