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NY Man Charged in Architecture Fraud Case

Friday, May 5, 2017

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A New York man has been charged with nearly 60 counts of larceny, forgery, fraud and unlicensed practice of architecture.

Paul J. Newman, of Troy, New York, is accused of pretending to be an architect. He stamped more than 1,000 documents and collected nearly $200,000 in construction projects in the state’s Albany region under the company name Cohesion Studios Inc., of which Newman is the only employee.

© iStock/baona

Paul J. Newman, of Troy, New York, is accused of pretending to be an architect. He stamped more than 1,000 documents and collected nearly $200,000 in construction projects.

New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman unsealed Newman’s indictments late last month, revealing the 58 counts that stemmed from a bust cheekily called “Operation Vandelay Industries” (a play on Newman’s last name with a nod to the television sitcom series “Seinfeld” in which character George Costanza uses the fake company to try to fluff his resume).

“By allegedly falsifying building plans, code compliance inspections, and field reports, the defendant jeopardized the safety of those who resided in and frequented the buildings he was contracted to work on," Schneiderman said in a statement. "Deceptive actions like these erode public trust, and my office will not tolerate them.”

According to reports, Newman had been advertising for architectural work up until June 2015, when he realized that a complaint had been filed against him and he was under investigation by the New York State Education Department Office of the Professions. They eventually turned the case over to the attorney general’s office.

The investigation concluded that Newman allegedly submitted various reports and certificates falsely certifying that he was a licensed architect and allegedly drafted renderings for more than 100 properties spanning three counties.

Across those counties, Newman is charged with:

  • One count of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree;
  • One count of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree;
  • 24 counts of Forgery in the Second Degree;
  • Three counts of Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree;
  • Five counts of Unauthorized Practice of a Profession; and
  • 24 counts of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree.

Schneiderman said Newman had been "deceiving hundreds of New Yorkers, including families and senior citizens, with the sole goal of enriching himself.”

© iStock/bjdizx

The investigation concluded that Newman allegedly submitted various reports and certificates falsely certifying that he was a licensed architect and allegedly drafted renderings for more than 100 properties spanning three counties.

If convicted, Newman faces up to 15 years in prison. A message for his attorney at O’Connell & Aronowitz was not returned Thursday (May 4).

A Dose of Discrepancy

In the indictments, Newman was described as working on several jobs, including a 214-unit apartment complex in which he was listed as the project architect. The developer of that project, Robert A. Hayes of Hayes Development, says that Newman was not the architect and that when the company was interviewed by the attorney general’s office, they reported that Newman was listed as a draftsman on the project.

"He worked as a draftsman, and we had three or four different draftsmen on the project,” Hayes told the Albany Business Review. "We’re unfortunately tangled up in this because he worked as one of several draftsmen on our project. … We did everything correctly.”

   

Tagged categories: Architects; Criminal acts; Fraud; Laws and litigation

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