Airport Work Credited to Minority Contractors Overstated

Mon June 04, 2007 - Midwest Edition
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CLEVELAND (AP) A lawyer hired to investigate accusations that contractors paid minority-owned construction companies for work they never did on a Cleveland airport expansion concluded that other city projects likely had little or no work done by legitimate minority contractors.

“The nature and circumstances of the abuses that appear to have occurred on the project suggest that there is a wider level of abuse,” the 2005 report obtained Jan. 12 by The Plain Dealer wrote.

The city requires that at least 15 percent of all construction contracts be subcontracted to companies owned by minorities or women. However, the ordinance is so poorly written that participation by minority contractors on city projects is “compromised on a routine basis,” said the 13-page report by Cleveland Attorney Craig Owen White.

The report said it was unclear whether any crime was committed but suggested that the city consider fining or suing the contractors.

The investigation was ordered by then-Mayor Jane Campbell after Ricardo Teamor, a black lawyer and construction company owner, told the FBI in 2005 that he collected tens of thousands of dollars as a subcontractor but did little work on the $500 million expansion at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.

White reported that a company owned by John Allega, Anthony Allega Cement Contractors Inc., did a significant amount of the work that Teamor’s company was credited with. Teamor had told the FBI earlier that Allega’s company did the work and paid him to serve as a minority front.

Company President John Allega has in the past denied the allegation and called Teamor a liar.

White’s report said that another of Allega’s minority subcontractors, Chem-Ty Environmental, did little of the work attributed to it and that Allega also overstated work done by minority subcontractor Bradley Construction.

The newspaper had made repeated requests for the report, which was released Jan. 12, by the office of Mayor Frank Jackson, who took office in January 2006.

Neither Allega nor Teamor have published home telephone numbers. Messages seeking comment were left Jan. 13, at Allega’s company. No working telephone numbers could be found for Bradley Construction or Chem-Ty. White’s report said his law firm could not locate Chem-Ty.

Jackson’s office started its own investigation after receiving the report. Spokeswoman Maureen Harper on Jan. 12, said she would not release its findings.

“The investigation is complete and we are moving forward with our findings and will take appropriate action,” said a statement from the city.

The Office of Equal Opportunity was revamped last year and formed a unit to investigate complaints about compliance with the minority contractor requirements, the statement said.

Teamor pleaded guilty to paying bribes to former Councilman Joe Jones and was sentenced in 2005 to four months in prison and four months house arrest. Jones pleaded guilty in 2005 to mail fraud and was sentenced to six months of house arrest.

Teamor also had said approximately all the minority companies doing work at the airport paid kickbacks to Nate Gray, who was sentenced in 2005 to 15 years in prison for his role in a conspiracy in which bribes were paid in exchange for public contracts in Cleveland, East Cleveland, Houston and New Orleans.

Federal prosecutors repeatedly described Gray as the former right-hand man of former Cleveland Mayor Michael R. White.

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