FTR barred for fraud

By Freddy Monares

The Los Angeles Community College District debarred FTR International, Inc. on Feb. 8 at a meeting held at Los Angeles Harbor College from bidding or performing District contracts for up to five years.

A committee of the board of trustees of the Los Angeles Community College District held the three-day hearing, Dec. 6, 8 and 9 of 2011. FTR was the low bidder on the Math/Science building at East Los Angeles College, prior to the hearing. “The Board’s action on Feb. 8 found FTR to be ‘not responsible’ for purposes of that bid.

“FTR did no work at ELAC,” said Coby King, media contact for the LACCD. Fraudulent and false payment application, certification of work and poor work were the three allegations in debarring FTR from work in the District.

FTR was working on the Health and Physical Science Education Facility project that opened Aug. 2008 at Los Angeles Mission College when a Construction Field Order directed FTR to relocate a 24-inch Department of Water & Power waterline.

The contractor submitted a payment application to the district for $864,082.80, stating that 90 percent of the order had been completed—when according to the Office of the Inspector General—zero percent of the work was done. At this time FTR lost its pre-qualified status to perform any work on waterlines, by the DWP.

At the hearing, Project Manager for this project, Khal Jalad, and Chief Executive Officer of FTR, Nazir Katbi, both testified that the payment applications submitted were in fact false. The false paperwork submitted resulted in the payment of $864,082.80 from the district to FTR. Both Jalad and Katbi alleged that Construction Project Manager, Nick Quintanilla, directed them to falsify the payment application.

One other incident discussed at the meeting indicated that, while working on the Allied Health & Science Center project at Los Angeles Valley College on June 30, 2009, FTR submitted a false and fraudulent Division of the State Architect Verified Report form (DSA-6).

The DSA-6 form is designated to verify that the project at hand, Allied Health & Science Center, is at or near its completion. CO Architects was the Architect of Record for the project.

On the date FTR was to be completed with the project, CO Architects released a list of incomplete work for the Administration Building, which included over 2,000 items not in compliance with the Division of the State Architect approved contract documents. The inspector of record released several noncompliance issues, which FTR did not correct.

According to the hearing, FTR believed that the inspector’s office of records was issuing noncompliance issues because they were biased against the contractors. On the same project FTR submitted a false DSA-6 form, FTR claimed that the district asked them to design an exterior wall system in which water intrusions were later found.

The contractor stated the contract was not a design-build but a construction contract and advised the district that, design for the exterior wall system was not required. The district hired Robert Tittle Architect & Associates to further investigate the intrusion. At the hearing, Tittle concluded that, “Installation procedures were both far below the standard of care.”

FTR stated that they were not given an opportunity to repair any deficiencies. The committee found that, with the presented evidence, FTR did substandard and defective work. According to a news article released by the LACCD’s website president of the LACCD Board of Trustees, Miguel Santiago said, “Today’s action to fire a major building program contractor strikes a blow against shoddy work.

“This contractor’s actions were inexcusable, and debarring them from further work will also send a message to every contractor on the program that we expect the best work possible for our nine campuses.  We are continuing to deliver on our promises and saving money for our taxpayers.”

FTR has already sued to challenge the board of trustees actions and did not wish to comment on the issue.

 

**The Chief Executive Officer of FTR is Nizar Katbi, whose name is misspelled in this article.

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