Reporting Juliet Papa
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – A leading New York City construction company and four executives have been charged with bilking banks, The Economist magazine and other clients out of more than $30 million through an overbilling scheme.
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Lehr Construction Corp. and vice presidents Jeffrey Lazar and Todd Phillips, finance director Steven Halper and estimating chief Steven Wasserman pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges including racketeering. The men were released on $150,000 bond.
“This was a systematic, across-the-board practice,” Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. said.
New York-based Lehr oversees interior renovations. Prosecutors say the company had subcontractors pad their bids and purchase orders, then collected the difference.
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“The theft might have been a relatively modest amount of money but it was used routinely in all their construction management contracts,” Vance said.
A lawyer for Lehr said the company will complete its projects and pay its bills despite the charges. The company filed for bankruptcy protection in February.
Phillips’ lawyer says he “looks forward to being vindicated at trial.” The other defendants declined to comment.
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