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Concrete Testers Indicted for Allegedly Faking 3,000 Safety Reports

By Ben Fractenberg | August 4, 2011 6:04pm
Yankee Stadium is among the projects that could have been compromised by allegedly false concrete testing reports submitted by the American Standard Testing and Consulting Labs.
Yankee Stadium is among the projects that could have been compromised by allegedly false concrete testing reports submitted by the American Standard Testing and Consulting Labs.
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Nick Laham/Getty Images

MANHATTAN — The owner and five employees of the American Standard Testing and Consulting Laboratories were indicted Thursday by the Manhattan District Attorney's office for allegedly falsifying thousands of concrete testing and inspection reports over a 12-year period for major projects around the city including Yankee Stadium, the Javits Center and the Lincoln Tunnel.

“Construction projects must comply with building codes for one simple, but very important, reason: to ensure that our city’s buildings are safe,” said District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. “By falsifying safety tests and reports for more than 10 years, the defendants are charged not only with cheating their clients, but also jeopardizing the public’s safety."

The indictments come just over a year after two top executives from Testwell were convicted of faking concrete test results from Yankee Stadium, the Freedom Tower and other major construction projects.  ASTC was chosen to take over from Testwell on some of those projects, according to the New York Times.

Owner Alan Fortich, 44, oversaw ASTC while the company allegedly submitted fraudulent reports relating to the strength and quality of concrete for the projects, which also included a LaGuardia Airport air control tower, the Second Avenue Subway and the Fulton Street Transit Center.

Officials said that there did not appear to be any indication that the structural integrity of the buildings had been comprised.  However, according to the Times, there were cracks in the concrete at the Javits Center and the airport.

The tests were supposed to be done before workers started pouring concrete. A structural engineer must determine the strength of concrete to be used and an independent lab is supposed to test the proportions of cement ingredients used and issue a “mix design test report.”  

The concrete then needs to be tested every 12 months as its basic ingredients of sand, stone, water and cement change over time, possibly affecting the integrity of the structure.

Fortich, along with engineers Michael Rabkin, 53, Shamim Akond, 43, Richard Kasparian, 71, and Bruce Pumo, 58, allegedly falsified nearly 3,000 mix reports over the 12 years.

“These defendants pretended to test concrete samples on a host of construction jobs but instead merely churned out bogus test results, according to the indictment. They may have thought they had hoodwinked everyone and no one would know," New York City Department of Investigation Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn said in a statement.

"But investigators found suspicious similarities in numerous test results as reported by American Standard Testing and Consulting Labs and then discovered an array of fraudulent schemes outlined in the indictment."

Fortich and the five other defendants are charged with enterprise corruption, scheme to defraud, offering a false instrument for filing and falsifying business records. If convicted, they face up to 25 years in prison.

The company also allegedly lied about its credentials to get licenses from the Department of Buildings.

Officials said that Fortich lied about his net worth to qualify for a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program to qualify to work on projects including the Fulton Street Transit Center and the Metro-North Croton-Harmon Station Rehabilitation.

In order to qualify for the program, businesses have to be locally-based and minority owned. The owner's net worth must be less than $750,000.

ASTC, which has been in business since 1995 and has offices in New Hyde Park, LI and New Jersey, also used another company as a front to apply for other projects as a Local Business Enterprise, the DA's office said. Companies must be women- or minority-owned in order to qualify.

A source said all of the companies ASTC worked for have been contacted and are taking safety measures to ensure the integrity of their structures.

Fortich did not immediately return a request for comment.