Indictments Halt 50 Tulsa Street Projects

Friday, January 23rd 2009, 12:55 pm
By: News On 6

By Emory Bryan, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- More than 50 current street projects have been halted because of their connections to contractors named in federal indictments released Thursday.

The contractors are accused of bribing city employees to award those contracts.

City officials don't know how long these projects will be delayed, but some are in the middle of construction and Friday, the work stopped.

The contractors under indictment have completed some of the biggest projects in the city, like the total rebuild of Boston Avenue done by Horizon Construction, which also had a hand in many of the downtown street repairs last year.

On Friday, the city fired off letters to four contractors connected to the case, ordering them to "stop work until further notice." Some of the halted projects are in the design phase, and some are under construction.

The city will have to pick a new contractor to take over. The mayor said no contractors will be paid until it can be determined they have no connection to the fraud case.

"We want to make sure of the relationship between these companies and the other companies that do business with us," Mayor Kathy Taylor said.

The city employee at the center of the indictment is Albert Martinez, who was in charge of making sure contractors completed projects on time. He worked in the engineering services division office until Wednesday night.

Taylor wants to hire investigators and accountants to dig out any other possible fraud in the public works department and to answer one of the remaining questions -- how much money the city lost.

"We cannot from the information that the U.S. Attorney gave us identify how much was lost, because there were bribes and inflated contracts," Mayor Kathy Taylor said. "Obviously on the bribes, we have no way of knowing if they would have bid at a lower level."

Related story:

1/22/2009  Tulsa Mayor Reacts To Indictments