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first_imgShare on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedinShare via Email Share via Shortlink Turner Construction CEO Peter Davoren (front) and Michael Bloomberg with 120 Park Avenue (left) and 919 Third Avenue, Bloomberg buildings where renovation costs were inflated in exchange for kickbacks, authorities say.A small Queens glass company sent out a letter in 2017, alerting clients that it had fired three of its employees. It did not say why, but that became clear soon enough.Authorities had discovered an alleged bribery scheme centered not on little-known Jonathan Metal & Glass but on Turner Construction and Bloomberg. Executives from the two giant firms were charged with accepting millions of dollars’ worth of payoffs in exchange for inflating interior construction contracts.Federal authorities raided Turner’s offices in October 2017, roughly a week before the glass shop revealed the firings. One of the terminated employees was later accused in the scheme, along with nearly two dozen other subcontractors and vendors.The federal and state criminal cases against former Turner and Bloomberg employees, as well as the subcontractors, are only now nearing a conclusion. Four former executives of the big firms have pleaded guilty to tax evasion, theft and other charges.By marking up construction costs at Bloomberg offices, executives stole at least $15 million from the media and financial information company, authorities said. They now face prison.As for Turner, although its client was ripped off, the firm was not charged, suffered no apparent blow to its reputation and has continued to win large contracts. Which surprised absolutely no one.Large construction companies often emerge from corruption cases relatively unscathed, even when found to be directly involved in wrongdoing. They pay a fine, issue an apologetic statement and continue to bid on work.But the Turner case also underscores how vulnerable construction is to malfeasance and the persistent appetite of industry players to cheat at every level of the process.“You can never be content with the controls that you set up because people who are looking to pad their invoices are vigilant as well, in a negative sense,” said Dennis Walsh, a former prosecutor with the New York attorney general’s Organized Crime Task Force and a consultant with Guidepost Solutions. “Companies need to think in a forward way and be mindful of the tireless efforts of some contractors to exploit opportunities.”The schemeIn September 2017, a project superintendent for Turner, Vito Nigro, sent a cryptic text message to an air conditioning subcontractor.“When u bringing lunch so we’re done. The other guy is getting married,” he wrote, according to state prosecutors.He was referring not to food but to a series of illicit cash payments that were used in part, to help pay for then-Bloomberg construction manager Michael Campana’s wedding photographer, prosecutors allege. Nigro repeatedly referred to bribes in lunch terms, most often as “sandwiches,” according to the 2018 indictment.The two, along with more than a dozen others, were charged with conspiring with various subcontractors and vendors to award work to certain companies, artificially driving up the costs of construction work at Bloomberg’s offices at 120 Park Avenue and 919 Third Avenue.In return, the subcontractors allegedly provided cash bribes and other kickbacks, including vacations and home renovations, to executives at Bloomberg and Turner. This went on for six and a half years.Finally, a month after Nigro’s message about “lunch,” New York State Police officers and investigators crashed the party.Prosecutors said at the time that the graft turned the New Jersey home of Anthony Guzzone, Bloomberg’s head of global construction, into a “palace.”A separate federal indictment slapped tax-evasion charges on the executives, who had not reported the illicit benefits to the IRS. Attorneys for Nigro and Campana did not comment for this story.The scheme was not novel in the annals of construction fraud. In the past three decades, New York’s largest construction managers have paid millions in fines and penalties to settle similar allegations. But the case was notable for a few key reasons.For one, Bloomberg and Turner are huge, sophisticated companies. Bloomberg, founded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and headquartered on Lexington Avenue, is worth as much as $60 billion, according to Burton-Taylor International Consulting. Turner bills itself as the country’s largest construction manager. Its global revenue last year was $14.66 billion, according to ENR.Turner is a subsidiary of German engineering giant Hochtief, which acquired the New York–based construction manager in 1999 for $263 million. Since then, Turner has expanded across the U.S. — where it now has more than 40 offices — and internationally.But size can make corruption harder to find. “Rogue actors” can keep misdeeds under the radar for an extended period at a large company, especially when projects are worth tens of millions of dollars, according to Jodie Kane, head of the Manhattan district attorney’s Rackets Bureau.“It’s easy to skim off what would still be a considerable amount of money for many of us but, in the larger view of the project, is a small fraction,” she said. The alleged involvement of top Bloomberg executives likely made the scheme even harder to stop.“I think it’s easy to go undetected for a long time, even with very rigorous internal compliance and especially when it’s the gatekeeper, who’s supposed to be identifying the compliance, who ends up being a bad actor,” Kane said. “Really, that’s the worst of all possible worlds.”Some elements of a construction contract can be readily inflated if they have no fixed value, such as responding to conditions on a site that emerge during the building process.“If there was a stock that you could buy for a dollar, and someone paid $1.10, you’d know something was up,” said Ronald Goldstock, a private, independent inspector general and construction integrity monitor who was once director of the New York State Organized Crime Task Force. “The construction industry by its very nature is rife with the possibilities of bribery and extortion.”Diana Florence, who spent 25 years at the Manhattan district attorney’s office and headed its Construction Fraud Task Force, said looking at a company’s culture is key in determining its culpability.“There also has to be fairness,” she said. “You can’t indict an entire company, and you shouldn’t, based on a rogue employee.”But some believe Bloomberg should have been prepared for this kind of scheme. Bloomberg’s previous construction manager, Structure Tone, was also accused of overbilling the firm, as well as other clients. Structure Tone pleaded guilty in 2014 to falsifying business records.Also, Nastasi & Associates, a carpentry subcontractor, had warned Bloomberg and Turner of problems with their bidding processes, according to lawsuits filed after the criminal federal and state cases were revealed.The company’s owner, Anthony Nastasi, claims in the suits that after he raised questions, his company was abruptly fired from a Bloomberg project and then blocked from bidding on others, which destroyed his company.“This is how Turner runs its business,” the lawsuit states. “Everyone knows the risk of crossing Turner, and Turner does not hesitate to impose its enormous market power on subcontractors that depend on Turner for work.”The suit, which a Turner spokesperson said has “no merit” and was dismissed in March in a decision now being appealed, also contends that both companies ignored “red flags” that the schemes “reached the highest levels of these companies, permeating through many departments and levels of employees in different areas of the construction business.”“Not only should their compliance programs have caught this scheme, based on the breadth and brazenness of the conduct by their highest-level executives,” the lawsuit claims, “but these companies have long been on alert that their employees, including their highest-level executives, were susceptible to it.”Moving on Three years after being revealed, the federal and state cases against the Turner and Bloomberg executives are coming to a close.Guzzone, whom prosecutors referred to as the scheme’s mastermind, faces up to five years in prison on the federal tax evasion charge and three to nine years for grand larceny in the state case. Ronald Olson, former Turner vice president and deputy operation manager, faces the same sentences. Campana was sentenced to 24 months in prison in the federal case and faces one year in the state case, after pleading guilty to tax evasion and money laundering, respectively.An attorney for Guzzone, Alex Spiro, said in a statement that his client has “accepted responsibility for accepting gratuities and not disclosing certain matters on his taxes and will further explain the circumstances in court.” A lawyer for Olson did not comment.One employee of Jonathan Metal & Glass, Frank Zustovich, pleaded guilty to stealing $50,000 from Bloomberg and agreed to provide authorities with the names of Bloomberg and Turner executives, according to the New York Times. Zustovich, along with at least one other employee fired from Jonathan Metal, now work for another company, GFC Ornamental Metal & Glass, according to LinkedIn.Turner, meanwhile, seems to have emerged with nary a scratch. In New York, the company is serving as construction manager for the Spiral, Tishman Speyer’s Bjarke Ingels–designed office tower. In May it was selected to build out the interiors of Ernst & Young’s offices spanning 18 floors at One Manhattan West. Vornado Realty Trust recently tapped the company to oversee the redevelopment of 2 Penn Plaza.“Clients recognize that the actions of two former employees do not reflect Turner’s true character of honesty and integrity,” the Turner spokesperson said about the Bloomberg case. “Turner actively cooperated with law enforcement throughout the investigation and applauds their efforts in prosecuting these individuals.”Kane said larger companies are typically better equipped to weather bad press and reputational damage that accompanies criminal convictions. Smaller companies will sometimes shut down and reopen under a new name, she said.But the government rarely tries to put firms out of business, a lesson learned when the conviction of Arthur Andersen in the 2001 Enron scandal triggered the disintegration of the accounting giant, costing thousands of employees their jobs.In determining whether to go after the company itself, prosecutors consider how many people it employs and if there is a way to remedy criminal activity while keeping it in business, according to Kane.“Many of these companies, despite criminal wrongdoing, they do good work in the construction industry,” she said. “So if you can find a way to clean up the culture of the company, but to keep the workers employed, that’s one of the things that we try to do.”Louis Coletti, president of the Building Trades Employers Association, called the cases against Turner — a member of his group — and Bloomberg employees an “aberration.”“At the end of the day, human beings will try to take advantage of any system,” he said. “We do all we can to prevent it, but if anybody goes asunder, rest assured they will be terminated and have been terminated.”Indeed, executives were caught. But by the government, not by the companies. And given the weaknesses inherent in construction contracting, it appears certain such crimes will happen again.In addition to increased corporate vigilance, Florence said, the government needs to make clear it is continuously watching for fraud. Otherwise, companies and their employees will continue to think the risk of getting caught is outweighed by potential rewards. “It’s like Groundhog Day over and over,” she said. Share via Shortlinkcenter_img TagsTurner Constructionlast_img read more

first_img Tags Email Address* DevelopmentReal Estate Lawsuitstribeca Share via Shortlink Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedinShare via Email Share via Shortlinkcenter_img Full Name* 465 Washington Street, Arthur Becker, and Valerie Dillon (Photos via Getty Images and 465 Washington Street)In 2012, gallery owner Valerie Dillon received an offer for her stake in a Tribeca apartment building she couldn’t pass up.Developer Arthur Becker needed Dillon’s stake in the building in order to convert it into a boutique condo project.In exchange, Dillon didn’t just want money; she wanted the right to buy back her apartment in the converted building for $50,000.But now, seven years after Dillon moved out of her apartment, Becker — a tech mogul-turned-developer, and the former husband of designer Vera Wang — still hasn’t finished the condo project at 465 Washington Street.The developer and former resident have been locked in a heated, years-long legal battle over her option to acquire the apartment at the long-delayed project. In the most recent twist, Dillon filed a lawsuit this week in New York State Supreme Court alleging that Becker and his firm, Madison 465 W, have “deliberately delayed satisfying their obligations” of the agreement.Dillon’s lawyers further claim that the developer has made “strategic delays” to the project, and allege that an offering plan filed with the New York Attorney General’s office last October eliminates Dillon’s option to buy and would make the unit available to the public.Becker’s attorney, Kevin Fritz of Meister Seelig & Fein, disputed Dillon’s claims.“Her allegation that Mr. Becker ‘strategically delayed’ renovating the building is belied by the record and defies common sense,” said Fritz.Fritz said similar claims in a previous lawsuit brought by Dillon were dismissed. He says that in that lawsuit, Dillon submitted an affidavit “acknowledging that any exercise of the option could be rejected by Mr. Becker, and thus we are unclear why she now alleges otherwise.”According to the new lawsuit, Dillon initially bought the entire third floor of the Washington Street building from developer Peter Moore in 2007 for $1.5 million, and invested another $300,000 into renovating the space. Two years later, Dillon secured a 20 percent interest in 465 Project LLC, the entity that owned the building, from Moore.But Moore struggled to make his loan payments and ultimately forfeited his interests in that entity to Dillon and another tenant, giving them control of the building.Dillon later sold her 50 percent stake in the building to Becker, after securing an option agreement to buy back her old apartment.Becker was a silent backer of JDS Development Group and Property Markets Group’s Billionaires’ Row supertall at 111 West 57th Street.But for the Tribeca development, he struck out on his own, seeking to build an eight-unit condo with a projected sellout of $52.5 million.It was set to be completed in 2015, but things did not progress smoothly, according to the complaint. Becker reportedly told Dillon construction would begin in 2013, but by 2019, it was still stalled. Dillon alleges Becker also sought to find another buyer for the building rather than attempt to complete the project. By not finishing it within a certain time frame, Dillon alleges he violated their agreement.Dillon also alleges that in October 2020, Becker submitted an amended offering plan to the attorney general that, if approved, would allow the developer to sell Dillon’s apartment. Becker allegedly said that he’s expecting approval of the amendment in February 2021.Dillon is now seeking to obtain the right and title to the apartment.“The complaint speaks for itself,” said Michael Hanin, an attorney of Kasowitz Benson Torres, who represents Dillon. “Our client is legally entitled to the third floor apartment at 465 Washington Street, and looks forward to her day in court.”Contact the author Message*last_img read more

first_img Share via Shortlink Full Name* New York Times tower at 620 Eighth Avenue and Park Avenue Plaza at 55 East 52nd Street (Photos via Wikipedia Commons, Google Maps)The rise in supply is simply outpacing demand.Manhattan’s office availability set another unfortunate record at 15.5 percent in February, up 0.6 percentage points from January and 5.6 points from a year ago, according to Colliers International’s monthly market snapshot.Total space leased in February was 900,000 square feet, down by 51 percent from the volume in January and by 57 percent from a year ago. The total was also 43 percent lower than the 2020 monthly average volume of 1.58 million square feet.Net sublet availability rose by 1.14 million square feet last month, bringing sublet availability to nearly 20 million square feet, or about 24.3 percent of total availability.ADVERTISEMENTRead moreManhattan office availability hits record-high 14.9%Brookfield seeks nearly $80M in tax breaks for 2 Manhattan WestAllianceBernstein nearing massive relocation deal at The Spiral Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedinShare via Email Share via Shortlink Email Address* Message* The biggest February lease signing was a 132,094-square-foot renewal by law firm Seyfarth Shay at the New York Times tower, 620 Eighth Avenue, followed by a new 120,809-square-foot lease by Jennison Associates at Fisher Brothers’ Park Avenue Plaza at 55 East 52nd Street. Third was LIM College’s 60,000-square-foot renewal at 216 East 45th Street, owned by Bernstein Real Estate.Coming in fourth and fifth were fuboTV’s 54,786-square-foot lease and G/O Media’s 52,258-square-foot sublease, both at Vornado Realty Trust’s 43-story office tower at 1290 Sixth Avenue.In a typical year, some 15 million to 20 million square feet of office leases expire, and tenants start making plans as their expiration date approaches, said Franklin Wallach, Colliers’ senior managing director for New York research.But future office needs became uncertain as working from home became the norm, and many office tenants opted for a short-term lease extension or postponed decisions altogether.Signs of recovery, notably vaccine distribution, are reassuring tenants that things are heading in the right direction.“As there’s more clarity in the air, they would be more likely to — instead of a short-term solution because of not being sure of what’s taking place — re-engage the market,” Wallach said.But demand is likely to be outpaced by supply in the near future because a big chunk of new office space is scheduled to be added to Manhattan inventory: 1.5 million square feet at Brookfield’s 2 Manhattan West and 1.3 million square feet at Tishman Speyer’s Spiral, both in the Hudson Yards neighborhood, Wallach said, citing CoStar.Contact Akiko Matsuda Colliers InternationalManhattan Office Market Tagslast_img read more

first_imgClimatic warming could cause increased melting from Antarctic ice shelves. Continued weakening of the ice shelves in this way would result in the ultimate collapse of most of the West Antarctic ice sheet. For complete removal of the ice shelves collapse of the ice sheet and a 5 m rise in world sea level could occur in <100 yr. More realistically, ice-shelf deterioration is likely to be a rather slow process, and even for a major and sustained warming trend ice-sheet collapse would take several hundred years, with most of the associated rise in sea level occurring during the final century. However, little is known about the glaciers that drain the northern part of the ice sheet. These glaciers have little or no protective fringe of ice shelf and, unless they flow over sufficiently high bedrock sills, they may show a more rapid response to increased temperatures.last_img read more

first_imgThis paper is a review of the literature on turbulent transfer processes over snow and ice surfaces. Current techniques for modelling these transfers for hydrological purposes are discussed.last_img

first_imgPalynological analyses of the Marambio Group sediments of Humps Island (Santa Marta and López de Bertodano formations) indicates that there is minor displacement across a prominent NW–SE trending normal fault which passes beneath the southern bluff. No major compositional differences were perceived between the palynomorph assemblages either side of the fault. A late Campanian age is suggested for both sequences, based on comparison with Australasian dinoflagellate cyst zonations. A new species of the dinoflagellate cyst Bourkidinium has been recorded from strata on either side of the fault. A significant number of recycled Permian and Early Cretaceous palynomorphs were recorded. Most are miospores and exhibit significant variation in preservational states, implying derivation from several sources. More thermally mature Permian gymnosperm pollen is most likely derived from the nearby Trinity Peninsula Group, exposed on the Antarctic Peninsula. The source of the relatively well preserved Permian pollen is problematic.last_img read more

first_imgThe cheilostome bryozoan Fenestrulina rugula is a major component of the encrusting fauna of physically disturbed shallow water habitats in Antarctica. On rocks collected from Rothera Point, Adelaide Island, F. rugula was the dominant occupier of space (88% of all bryozoans, 76% of all fauna), though spirorbid polychaetes showed more colonisation events per unit area. Growth rate was relatively rapid in comparison with other polar bryozoans, but slower than temperate or tropical species. In fully reproductive colonies almost 80% of zooids carried ovicells. Colonies whose growth brought them into contact with other encrusting fauna (usually another colony of F. rugula) produced smaller zooids and initiated ovicell production earlier than unrestrained colonies. Analysis of overgrowth interactions showed that F. rugula was a relatively poor competitor compared with other encrusting bryozoans, and most within-species interactions were indeterminate. Population mortality was relatively high, averaging 89% per annum, although not as high as in some other species from ephemeral habitats. F. rugula is thus a typical early coloniser in being relatively fast-growing, quick to mature, short-lived and a relatively poor competitor. The population dynamics and ecology of this assemblage dominant appear to have been influenced primarily by the ephemeral nature of its habitat.last_img read more

first_imgMiocene–Recent alkaline volcanic rocks form numerous outcrops scattered widely throughout the Antarctic Peninsula and eastern Ellsworth Land. They occur mainly as short-lived (typically 1–2 million years) monogenetic volcanic fields but include a large outcrop area in northern Antarctic Peninsula which includes several substantial polygenetic shield volcanoes that were erupted over a 10 million year period (the James Ross Island Volcanic Group (JRIVG)). As a whole, the outcrops are of considerable importance for our understanding of the kinematic, petrological and palaeoenvironmental evolution of the region during the late Cenozoic. Until now, there has been no formal stratigraphical framework for the volcanism. Knowledge of the polygenetic JRIVG is still relatively poor, whereas a unifying lithostratigraphy is now possible for the monogenetic volcanic fields. For the latter, two new volcanic groups and twelve formations are defined, together with descriptions of the type sections. The volcanic fields (both polygenetic and monogenetic) vary in area from c. 1 to 4500 km2, and aeromagnetic data suggest that one may exceed 7 000 km2. The rocks are divisible into two contrasting petrological ‘series’, comprising basanites–phonotephrites and alkali basalts–tholeiites. The JRIVG is dominated by alkali basalts–tholeiites but also contains rare basanites, and phonotephrite–tephriphonolite compositions occur in minor pegmatitic segregations in sills. By contrast, in the monogenetic volcanic fields, basanites–phonotephrites generally form the older outcrops (mainly 15–5.4 Ma) and alkali basalts–tholeiites the younger outcrops (4(?)–<1 Ma). Throughout the region, erupted volumes of alkali basalts–tholeiites were an order of magnitude greater, at least, than those of basanite–phonotephrite compositions. Interpretation of the lithofacies indicates varied Miocene–Recent palaeoenvironments, including eruption and deposition in a marine setting, and beneath Alpine valley glaciers and ice sheets. Former ice sheets several hundred metres thick, and fluctuating ice surface elevations, which were generally higher during the eruptive periods than at present, can also be demonstratedlast_img read more

first_imgWhen planning the acquisition of new palaeo proxy data for reconstructing past climates, many factors influence the decision of where the proxies are to be collected. One such influence is the likelihood of recording a significant climate change relative to the modern. Another consideration, which is less often considered, is the desire to target regions in which there is significant uncertainty in numerical model predictions of past climate change. New proxy data in these regions enables a more rigorous test of model simulations, and results in better constraints on the various boundary conditions used to force the models. In this paper we present a methodology for targeting new palaeo proxy data, based on model simulations. We use the terrestrial late Miocene (11.6 to 5.3 Ma) as a case study. The late Miocene climate provides insights into future climate behavior, as it is believed to have been considerably warmer than the modern. We carry out a suite of late Miocene atmosphere-only General Circulation Model simulations, which we initially evaluate relative to an example dataset of terrestrial temperature and precipitation. In terms of targeting future data acquisition, we locate those regions in the model which exhibit the largest change in temperature and/or precipitation relative to the pre-industrial. We also locate those regions which display the largest variability between the model simulations, because new data in these regions are most likely to provide a strict test of the reliability of the model results. Among other regions, the Amazon basin, the Chad basin, central Canada, and northern India are identified as potentially useful areas to collect data.last_img read more

first_imgConstraining past fluctuations in global temperatures is central to our understanding of the Earth’s climatic evolution. Marine proxies dominate records of past temperature reconstructions, whereas our understanding of continental climate is relatively poor, particularly in high-latitude areas such as Antarctica. The recently developed MBT/CBT (methylation index of branched tetraethers/cyclization ratio of branched tetraethers) paleothermometer offers an opportunity to quantify ancient continental climates at temporal resolutions typically not afforded by terrestrial macrofloral proxies. Here, we have extended the application of the MBT/CBT proxy into the Cretaceous by presenting paleotemperatures through an expanded sedimentary succession from Seymour Island, Antarctica, spanning the latest Maastrichtian and Paleocene. Our data indicate the existence of a relatively stable, persistently cool temperate climate on the Antarctic Peninsula across the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary. These new data help elucidate the climatic evolution of Antarctica across one of the Earth’s most pronounced biotic reorganizations at the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary, prior to major ice-sheet development in the late Paleogene. Our work emphasizes the likely existence of temporal and/or spatial heterogeneities in climate of the southern high latitudes during the early Paleogene.last_img read more