Oneida County Construction Contractor To Repay Utica City School District

Attorney General Spitzer, Oneida County District Michael Arcuri, and New York State Commission on Investigations Chairwoman Dineen Riviezzo today announced that an Oneida County-based construction company, hired by the City of Utica School District in connection with the district's $8.8 million Capital Improvement Plan, have reached an agreement which will require the company to repay the school district more than $90,000.

The firm, George A. Nole & Sons, Inc., and Angelo Nole, the company's sole shareholder, entered the settlement agreement arising from Nole's failure to accurately report work conducted while a construction contractor on a series of paving and sidewalk construction projects for the Utica City School District. Under the settlement, Nole will repay the school district $92,054.80.

The investigation leading to the settlement had its origins in a preliminary report issued in May 2003 by the New York State Commission on Investigations (SIC) into the school district's management of its 1997 Capital Improvement Plan. Following receipt of this report, the Oneida County District Attorney's Office requested the assistance of the Attorney General and together they commenced an inquiry into the operational and financial management issues highlighted by the SIC report.

"The money being refunded to the district could provide a real difference to Utica's students – imagine 100 new computers or additional teaching resources in the class room," said Spitzer. "I am pleased to resolve the matter and to have the opportunity to continue the effective working relationship my office has established with the District Attorney."

Among Nole's five contracts with the school district was site improvement work at John F. Kennedy Junior High School. The project was originally awarded to the low bidder at a cost of $286,900. However, before work commenced project architect Louis DiOrio modified the bid specifications and the scope of work, increasing the value of the contract and negating the first bid. In the second round of bidding, Nole was awarded a contract for $358,000. Subsequently, the scope of work on this contract was modified yet again, reducing the size of the contract but without adjusting its price.

In addition to paying back the school district, Nole has agreed to notify the Attorney General of any public project construction contracts he or his company is awarded over the next three years, and must make available to the owners of those projects and to the Attorney General all documentation related to public project billing.

The investigation and preliminary SIC report revealed several additional deficiencies regarding oversight and structuring of construction contracts by the school district including:

  • authorizing "contingency" spending of 10 percent over the contract price without school board review or approval;
  • failing to require change orders in writing as specified by the contract documents; and
  • paying construction invoices without adequate documentation.

The settlement was negotiated by Assistant Attorney General Nancy Snyder and supervised by Bureau Chief Carrie Cohen of Spitzer's Public Integrity Unit and Deputy Bureau Chief Viola Abbitt of the Criminal Prosecutions Bureau. They were joined in the investigation by Assistant District Attorney Carla DiMarco of the Oneida County District Attorney's Office, and Senior Counsel Mary Colligan of the State Commission on Investigations.

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