Yankee Stadium Concrete Corruption Scandal

Company that tested concrete for new stadium, Freedom Tower and other big projects faces indictment

A company that tested concrete for construction projects around New York City, including Yankee Stadium and the Freedom Tower skyscraper at ground zero, has been indicted along with its president and about a dozen other officials, a law enforcement official and attorneys said yesterday.

The main charges are said to be enterprise corruption, New York's version of racketeering.

Testwell Laboratories was advised of the indictment seeking corruption charges, attorney Martin Adelman said. The company's president, V. Reddy Kancharla, and other company officials are also named, he said.

Manhattan prosecutors have been investigating charges for months that Testwell falsified test results for projects or billed companies for tests it never did, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because the indictment had not been released publicly.

The owners of the Freedom Tower and the Yankees said that concrete at their projects passed strength tests; the city has begun retesting concrete at various construction sites but has not announced its results.

"Testwell is disappointed that the district attorney's office has decided to bring these charges," Adelman said. "While we can not comment on the indictment because we haven't seen it yet, the company intends to vigorously defend itself. The company looks forward to restoring its reputation and vindicating itself."

Kancharla's attorney, David Smith, said he was unaware of the exact charges against his client, but "whatever the charges may be, Mr. Kancharla will be entering a plea of not guilty and vigorously defending against them."

A call seeking comment from the Manhattan District Attorney's Office was not returned Wednesday. The indictment was first reported Wednesday by The New York Times.

Adelman said prosecutors advised the company that it would need to appear in court on Thursday. Prosecutors also filed a temporary restraining order that prevents forfeiture of company property or assets.

The Yankees and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which is building the Freedom Tower, declined comment Wednesday.

An independent monitor for the Yankees first noticed problems with Testwell's work earlier this year and reported it to prosecutors. The monitor found that Testwell wasn't doing simple tests in which concrete is poured in a bucket and turned over to test if it remains steady.

The Port Authority also noticed irregularities in some of Testwell's results in early 2006, when construction began on the 1,776-foot skyscraper being built at the World Trade Center site, and also reported findings to prosecutors.

Monitors for both projects tested concrete monitored by Testwell and found it was of adequate strength.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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