Capital Region

Officials: Despite alleged fake architect, buildings appear OK

Man charged with practicing without license
Paul J. Newman, 49.
Paul J. Newman, 49.

When he first heard of questions about a Troy architect’s credentials, Robert Magee reviewed one project the man worked on and looked for others.

Magee, Albany’s director of building and regulatory compliance, said Friday that state investigators came to him a year ago with questions about suspect architect Paul J. Newman and his work on the Livingston Project, a multi-story senior housing project on Livingston Avenue in Albany. 

Newman is now accused of working as an architect without a license on more than 100 commercial properties and faking required certification stamps on plans and inspections.

In all, he’s facing 58 counts over three counties. Among the projects the attorney general this week identified that he worked on was the Livingston Project.

Despite Newman’s work on the project allegedly without a license, the Albany review found no issues with the building, Magee said.

“We didn’t find a reason to revoke the certificate of occupancy we had issued,” Magee said. 

Beyond the review, checks at the time of construction also certified the building work done, Magee said.

“Our inspectors had eyes on the project as it was happening,” Magee said. “It was all done up to code.”

Building officials contacted last week in Malta and Clifton Park gave similar answers to questions about Newman’s architectural work.

Among the projects he worked on, according to the state attorney general, are The Lofts in Malta, The Vistas in Clifton Park and the Ballston Senior Living Project in Ballston.

The Attorney General’s Office announced the arrest Thursday, dubbing the investigation of Newman “Operation Vandelay Industries,” a reference to the sitcom Seinfeld and character George Costanza.

For his work, Newman fraudulently collected nearly $200,000 in payments, the state said.

Newman worked under the company name Cohesion Studios and gained clients through social media postings, the AG’s office said.

Magee said his office also looked for other projects Newman may have worked on in the city, but found none. 

The office’s review of the Livingston Project, a 50-unit senior housing facility on Livingston Avenue, did find two instances where Newman affixed stamps certifying the plans for the initial permit application and then again certifying the building was built according to his plans.

In Malta, the state indicated Newman worked on the Lofts project as the project architect.

According to town Building and Planning Coordinator Anthony Tozzi, “All the plans that were reviewed and approved had the stamp of a registered licensed architect who was not Paul Newman.”

Tozzi also noted that town inspectors periodically check to ensure compliance with codes.

“Everything shows the appropriate professionals signed off and that the building meets both town code standards and New York State building code standards,” Tozzi said.

Clifton Park officials issued a similar statement Thursday evening, finding construction of the Vistas project followed all stipulations and the Building and Codes Department reviewed it throughout the building phase.

Newman is accused of working as an architect without a license since at least 2010, according  to the state. 

Newman remained in custody Friday without bail. His listed attorne,y Steve Coffey, could not be reached for comment.

The investigation began in June 2015 with a complaint to the state Office of the Professions that Newman was practicing architecture without a license.

Categories: News, Schenectady County

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