- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 4, 2006

BOSTON (AP) — Six men who worked for the Big Dig’s largest concrete supplier were arrested yesterday on federal charges purporting they falsified records to hide the poor quality of concrete delivered for the $14.6 billion highway project.

The six, all current or former employees of Aggregate Industries, face a variety of charges, including making false statements, mail fraud and conspiracy to defraud the government between 1996 and August 2005.

The indictment charges the men with recycling concrete that was too old and had been adulterated with excess water. They delivered at least 5,000 truckloads of this concrete, according to the indictment.

Lawyers for Aggregate have defended the quality of its concrete and said it never delivered any that did not meet strength specifications called for in its state contract.

Attorney General Tom Reilly has said there’s no evidence that the concrete is connected to hundreds of leaks that have sprung in Big Dig tunnels. He also has said there’s no reason to think the substandard concrete has affected the project’s structural integrity because it was delivered at least six years ago.

Nancy Sterling, a spokeswoman for Aggregate, said the company had no comment yesterday. R. Robert Popeo, an attorney for Aggregate, did not return a call.

The Big Dig, formally called the Central Artery and Third Harbor Tunnel project, buried Interstate 93 in tunnels beneath downtown and connected the Massachusetts Turnpike to Logan Airport with a third tunnel beneath Boston Harbor.

The project was plagued by long delays and cost overruns that ballooned from $2.6 billion to $14.6 billion. Earlier this year, after more than a decade of traffic detours, the last major section of the project opened. The heavy construction had started in 1991.

The accusations about the concrete’s strength stemmed from a whistleblower lawsuit filed last May in Suffolk Superior Court. Aggregate provided 60 percent of the concrete used in the Big Dig.

Indicted were: Robert Prosperi, 63, general manager; Marc Blais, 36, dispatch manager; John Farrar, 42, dispatch manager; Gerard McNally, 53, quality control manager; Gregory Stevenson, 53, district operations manager; and Keith Thomas, 50, dispatch manager.

Each is charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud; conspiracy to make false statements in a federal highway project; conspiracy to defraud the government; and mail fraud.

Mr. Farrar was arrested early yesterday in Connecticut and Mr. Stevenson was arrested in Pennsylvania, FBI spokeswoman Gail Marcinkiewicz said. She did not know which of the men were current employees and did not give their hometowns.

Aggregate was acquired this year by Holcim Ltd., a Swiss company with U.S. headquarters in Maryland.

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