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State Charges Bid Rigging in Convention Center, Other Projects

March 12, 1985

NEW YORK (AP) _ Eight concrete contractors rigged bids and fixed prices for five major construction projects, inflating costs by millions of dollars, state officials alleged Monday in a federal antitrust lawsuit.

In addition, ″there has been collusion, bid rigging and price fixing on every major construction project″ in the city for at least the last seven years, Attorney General Robert Abrams said.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court, accuses the contractors of violating antitrust laws in the building of the city’s Javits Convention Center and four other buildings, two of which were constructed for the city Housing Authority.

The bid-rigging inflated the cost of concrete for the convention center, which is still unfinished, by as much as $4 million, Abrams said.

According to the suit, the defendants decided which member of the group would get a particular concrete contract and at what price before submitting bids.

Any contractor who tried to submit a competitive bid would be threatened with labor union problems or with having to pay more for concrete or with getting less of it, the suit alleged.

″They said, ’If you don’t play ball with us, there’ll be ... problems,‴ Abrams said. ″For years, any construction project in New York City has faced this kind of conspiracy.″

The low bid for the center in March 1981 was $30 million, 12 percent higher than the engineer’s estimate, according to the complaint. The other bid was for $40 million.

The contractors ″combined among themselves to boost the cost of public and private construction to astronomical levels,″ Abrams said.

Surveys have indicated that concrete prices on construction sites in New York City’s four most populous boroughs are the highest in the nation.

The complaint, which seeks triple damages in the convention center project, named the following defendants:

-Cedar Park Concrete Corp.; Dic-Underhill Industries and three officers, Frank Phelan, Joseph DePaola and Walter Goldstein; Lizza Industries; Julius Nasso Concrete; S&A Concrete Co. and an officer, Nicholas Auletta; North Berry Concrete and its president, Joseph Martinelli; Certified Concrete, Transit-Mix Concrete Corp. and their owner, Edward J. ″Biff″ Halloran.

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