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Concrete-testing lab charged with faking results for big NYC project; latest in line of cases
NEW YORK (AP) ' A concrete-testing laboratory faked results for a LaGuardia Airport control tower, the new Yankee Stadium, the Lincoln Tunnel, a hospital and more than a dozen other projects around New York City, according to an indictment.
American Standard Testing and Consulting Laboratories Inc., President Alan Fortich and five staffers were expected to be arraigned Thursday on racketeering and other charges, becoming the latest of a string of concrete labs the Manhattan district attorney's office has prosecuted on similar charges.
New Hyde Park, N.Y.-based ATSC's phone number is disconnected, and Fortich didn't immediately respond to an email message Thursday morning. Defense lawyers' names weren't immediately available.
ATSC, Fortich and the accused engineers, lab directors and inspector "regularly skipped vital safety tests and created false reports to create the impression that the tests were performed," the indictment said. Customers "relied on the results to assess the quality of building materials in hundreds of private and public construction projects."
The buildings included Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, the Javits Center convention venue, a Columbia University science building, the Port Authority Bus Terminal, the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, the forthcoming Second Avenue Subway, and office and apartment buildings, according to the indictment.
The indictment doesn't discuss whether the allegations raise any safety worries. After earlier cases against other labs, the stadium and certain other projects around the city were retested and found safe, city officials said.
The previous cases heightened concern about construction safety in the city, spurring new checks on concrete testing and the labs licensed to do it. Dating to 1997, many of the allegations against ATSC predate the new measures.
Many builders in New York City depend on independent laboratories to test the concrete that forms skyscrapers, subway tunnels and other key pieces of the city's infrastructure.
Under the city building code, a lab hired for a construction project is supposed to mix up batches of concrete formulas, or "mix designs," and subject them to pressure until they break, in order to make sure they can withstand the loads they need to.
ATSC provided bogus results for both mix designs and tests of actual concrete samples from construction sites, the indictment said. The company also is accused of falsifying credentials to get city licenses and to qualify for programs that give small businesses a leg up in bidding on big government projects.
The case comes after Testwell Laboratories Inc., its president and a vice president were convicted in February 2010 of faking concrete and steel strength test results for nearly 120 projects in and around the city, including ground zero's centerpiece skyscraper and the new Yankee Stadium. The president, V. Reddy Kancharla, was sentenced to up to 21 years in prison.
The company and executives said they didn't mean to cheat anyone, and the allegations reflected simple mistakes, contract disputes and typical practices in the industry.
In April 2010, Stallone Testing Laboratories Inc. and its laboratory director pleaded guilty Friday to offering a false instrument for filing. They admitted falsifying mix design results for the World Trade Center memorial, the LaGuardia Airport control tower and dozens of other buildings.
Stallone was ordered to pay a $1,500 fine. Lab director William Bayer's case is expected to be closed without jail time or probation if he stays out of trouble for three years.
Jennifer Peltz can be reached at http://twitter.com/jennpeltz