Monday, February 22, 2016

Contractor Sentenced to 3-Years for Construction-Safety Fraud

A building safety consultant was sentenced to one to three years in state prison for sending hairdressers, cooks and hotel bellhops to impersonate licensed site safety managers at several New York City high-rise construction sites, according to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance
Richard Marini, president of Avanti Building Consultants, offered construction sites the high-priced inspection services of qualified safety managers all over the city’s prime Real Estate Locations.

He deployed his highly-trained safety experts to construction sites in the Financial District; in Gramercy Park, on the Upper East Side. No dowdy digs for these guys and gals. They were pros. Or were they?

You see, the joke was on Mr. Marini’s customers; only no one is laughing.

The company listed an impressive list of specialties as construction consultants with credentials providing support for, among other things - Engineering; Architectural; Environmental; Local Law 11 Inspections; Scaffold Inspection; Construction Inspections; Site Safety Managers, Hazardous Waste Mitigation; Asbestos Lead Abatement; Air Sampling; Noise & Vibration Monitoring; Construction Management; and Sustainable Design.

The catch was that Avanti Consulting chose a more frugal –and completely illegal route. They hired and coached a collection of hairdressers; short-order cooks; bellhops; amateur interior designers, musicians, window treatment specialists, e-mail vendors and plain old unemployed to impersonate inspectors of various types to conduct phony inspections, tests and interviews.

NYC’s Department of Investigation and the New York County District Attorney’s Office found that between 2012 and 2014, Avanti and the associated NYCB Engineering Group falsified more than 450 documents, ultimately wreaking havoc at scores of multi-million-dollar construction sites all over Manhattan.

Marini resorted to trawling Craigslist and other websites to find impersonators, who were neither licensed nor qualified to conduct the life-or-death safety inspections necessary on major construction projects.

He then instructed his “interns” to go to construction sites and sign in using their names or provided names of licensed site safety managers in the safety log. Often, the managers did not realize their names were being used.

In some instances, they would sign the name of a deceased site safety manager, according to court documents.

The scheme occurred from 2012 to early 2014, when a Department of Buildings inspector noticed a log was signed by a man who had died the year before.

Marini and several of those he hired were arrested in July 2014. Marini pleaded guilty in October 2015. He is also ordered to pay $610,000 in restitution.

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