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Third concrete lab concedes role in Big Apple testing, records scandal

Sources: Office of Manhattan (N.Y.) District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr.; CP staff

The owner of American Standard Testing and Consulting (ASTC) Laboratories of Whitestone, N.Y., and five other individuals have pleaded guilty to falsifying concrete testing and inspection reports on public and private New York City projects.

“These defendants not only cheated their clients, but also jeopardized the public’s safety,” said District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. in announcing the pleas. “Fortunately, the crimes were discovered and tests were conducted to ensure the structural integrity of the buildings in question.”

ASTC, plus its owner Alan Fortich and his brother Alvaro, along with four others were indicted in August 2011 on charges of Enterprise Corruption, Scheme to Defraud, Offering a False Instrument for Filing and Falsifying Business Records. ASTC and Alan Fortich pled guilty to Enterprise Corruption, while Alvaro Fortich pled guilty to Offering a False Instrument for Filing; each co-defendant pled guilty to Falsifying Business Records. Both Fortich pleas also acknowledged guilt in separate charges that ASTC lied about its a) credentials in pursuit of New York City Department of Building (DOB) licenses it was otherwise not entitled to obtain; and, b) small business qualifications to obtain work it was otherwise not eligible to perform.

According to the pleas involving the Enterprise Corruption and Falsifying Business Records charges, ASTC was hired by contractors, engineers, architects, and others to perform tests and inspections relating to concrete strength and quality as mandated by the New York City Building Code. For more than 10 years, defendants submitted thousands of false test reports, regularly skipping vital safety tests and creating false reports to create the impression tests were performed.

Among agencies behind projects where falsified testing and inspection reports arose are the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey; Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and its associated Transit, Bridges, Tunnels and Capital Construction agencies; and, the DOB plus New York City Department of Design and Construction and School Construction Authority.

ASTC came under scrutiny amid an investigation of Testwell Laboratories, against whom the Manhattan DA secured a trial conviction in 2010 on charges of Enterprise Corruption for fraudulent activities similar to those of ASTC. In the same year, a third company involved in metro New York concrete market, Stallone Testing Laboratories and its lab director pled guilty to Scheme to Defraud.