Three charged in alleged scam involving state-funded construction project
The Erie County District Attorney and New York State Inspector General announced Friday the arrests of three people accused of participating in a fraudulent scheme to circumvent minority- and women-owned business requirements at a state-funded work site in Buffalo.
Arrested and charged with ten counts of Offering a False Instrument for Filing is Christopher Nichter, 57, of Lancaster. He is the owner of Nichter Construction, Inc. His office manager, 44-year-old Angela Quinn of Lancaster, is charged with two counts of Offering a False Instrument for Filing. Charged with one count of Offering a False Instrument for Filing is William McClendon, 41, of Niagara Falls.
Nichter was awarded a contract for work at the Buffalo Psychiatric Center. As part of the state-funded project, he was required to have a minimum 13-percent minority business participation.
"These policies, these laws, are here to give everyone in this community a piece of the pie, to have everyone have the opportunity to share in all economic development that's going on here," said District Attorney John Flynn. "We have a case here that wasn't done."
According to the criminal complaint, Nichter listed McClendon, owner of McClendon Asphalt Paving, as a participating minority-owned business. It is alleged while Nichter listed McClendon to satusfy his requirements to the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York, McClendon and his company never worked on the project. Instead, others did the job while McClendon was allegedly offered a fee to allow use of his identity for Nichter's needs.
Investigators explained that the fee apparently never made it into McClendon's hands and it was he, according to Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott, who complained to DASNY.
"As a result of that, we interviewed the subcontractor," she said. "We spoke to him, whereby he laid out for us the criminal activity. We continued to conduct our investigation, which led to the arrests and arraignment yesterday."
If convicted, the defendants face up to four years in prison.