In another action linked to an ongoing probe of fraudulent concrete testing in New York City, American Standard Testing and Consulting Laboratories Inc., its owner and several employees have pleaded guilty to falsifying testing and inspection reports on some of the city's largest public and private projects, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr., said on Dec. 14.
The guilty pleas follows the August 2011 indictment of the firm, owner Alan Fortich and five engineers for submitting fraudulent test reports and not performing certain safety tests and inspections to insure concrete strength and quality under the city's building code. According to Vance, contractors, engineers and architects hired the firm for such work.
Among the projects named in the indictment where falsified tests occured are: Yankee stadium, the Jacob Javits convention center, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, the Lincoln Tunnel, the Second Avenue subway, the East Side Access tunnel, the Port Authority Bus Terminal, a control tower at LaGuardia airport and several city public schools.
Company employees identified in the plea agreement as engineers who also pleaded guilty, are Bruce Pumo, Michael Rabkin, Richard Kasparian, and Shamim Akond.
Fortich and another employee, Alvaro Fortich, also pleaded guilty to manipulating government programs to obtain jobs for which they were otherwise ineligible.
According to the indictment, the firm and its owner "lied about company credentials" to obtain licenses from the city's Dept. of Buildings. The firm also misrepresented itself as an eligible small and disadvantaged business.
The indictment indicates the fraudulent testing went on for 12 years.
According to the Dec. 14 announcement, agencies listed as "victims" of American Standard's fraud include the New York City Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the Federal Aviation Administratin, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the city's Dept. of Design and Construction and its Dept. of Buildings. Agency inspectors general were involved in probing the testing firm's activities, said Vance.
According to the indictment, false data was also passed to AEC firms and others, including Skimore Owings & Merrill, Arup, Leslie E. Robertson Associates, Gilzanz Murray Steficek, Stantec, Thornton Tomasetti, Skanska and the Hudson River Trust.
"Falsifying construction safety tests is unacceptable conduct,” said Vance. “These defendants not only cheated their clients, but also jeopardized the public’s safety. Fortunately, the crimes were discovered and tests were conducted to ensure the structural integrity of the buildings in question.”
The firm, which the indictment states is based in Whitestone, N.Y., could not be reached at phone numbers listed on websites or obtained through directory assistance.
A spokesman for the district attorney says the firm would be barred from bidding on future work at the affected agencies but that it is no longer in business.
The guilty pleas follow a jury's 2010 conviction of another New York concrete testing firm, Testwell Laboratories, as well as its CEO and another executive on multiple corruption and fraud charges related to falsified test results.