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Front Busting and fraud detection cont.

Harry C. Alford | 6/20/2012, 5 p.m.

So here we were at a crossroads in the state of Indiana. I had just successfully detected, reported and busted a construction fronting scheme. Huber, Hunt & Nichols, the largest construction firm in the state, was now banned from state contracts for five years. The word to the White-owned construction community was that it was a new day unless we fought back.

Oh, how stubborn some can be in defending what is wrong, because their greed gets in the way of common sense. Thus, I had to begin a series on front-busting and exposure until the big companies finally relented and started contracting on a level playing field.

The Maintenance Hub for United Air Lines at the Indianapolis Airport was a $1 billion project and United was determined to build this structure Chicago-style (using fronts all the way and void of true Black contracting activity).

But we weren't going to have it, and we put them on notice. When their first minority participation reports came out, I destroyed any doubt that it was fictitious. Steel supplier? I got confessions from the alleged Black business that it was a lie. Plumbing supplier? The following is the report I did on this situation:
"Fudge Report Number 3, The Misrepresentations at the UAL MOC II--Another example of the many misrepresentations of minority business participation at the United Airlines Project can be found in two bid packages entitled 'Central Plant Plumbing' and 'Hangar 1 Plumbing.'"

"The bids were awarded to Frank E. Irish Inc. and the alleged Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) participant is Indianapolis Pipe & Valve.

The report shows Indianapolis Pipe & Valve selling product worth $258,222 and $599,117 for a total of $857,339. This amount is listed both as MBE [Minority Business Enterprise] participation as well as Indiana Business Enterprise Participation [IBE]. This claim is false!

"The fact is that the material is being purchased from Rovanco Corp. of Illinois. Attached are the final quote pages from Rovanco that list the exact dollar amounts as above. In essence, this is a pure transaction between a White-owned Illinois firm and Frank E. Irish Inc. There is no MBE or IBE participation.

"For the use of its name and, if needed, a creation of a paper trail Indianapolis Pipe & Valve would receive a 2 percent fee ($17,146.78). This company never provided a bid to Frank E. Irish Inc.

"The above scheme was easily detected by the Hoosier Minority Chamber of Commerce (HMCC). All should be assured that there are many other examples that will be exposed.

"Being that United Air Lines nor any of its agents ever bothered to contact Indianapolis Pipe & Valve to monitor or even verify this large claim, it can be classified as either incompetent or duplicitous. The minority business community of Indiana is not amused."

We became relentless in exposing the fraud, and White contractors were starting to get nervous about their names being out there. The only alternative they had was to do the right thing or stay out of the project. One the other hand, United Air Lines started to dig in and play a game of character assassination on me. They were so foolish! Here I was documenting everything and convincing the public that the fronting allegations were fact.