Ballston Spa

AG: Man admits to faking architectural credentials

He now faces expected sentence of 2 1/3 to 7 years
Paul J. Newman, 49.
Paul J. Newman, 49.

BALLSTON SPA — A man accused of working as an architect without license over three counties, including large residential projects in Saratoga County, has admitted to the scheme, state Attorney General’s officials said Wednesday.

Paul J. Newman, 49, pleaded guilty to grand larceny, forgery and other charges, officials said. He now faces an expected sentence of 2 1/3 to 7 years in state prison and restitution of $115,000.

Newman was accused of working as an architect without a license since at least 2010. 

He drafted architectural renderings for more than 100 commercial properties between Saratoga, Albany and Rensselaer counties and affixed fraudulent stamps to thousands of pages of building plans and inspections, officials said.

Newman’s April arrest gained added notoriety as the Attorney General’s Office dubbed the case “Operation Vandelay Industries” because of several easy references to the TV show “Seinfeld” in the details of the case.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement Newman disregarded public safety and cheated the system. 

The attorney general also continued the “Seinfeld” references in the statement, riffing off a famous line from the show concerning “soup.”

“The state law is clear — no license, no architectural work for you,” Schneiderman’s statement reads. “No one is above that standard.”

Newman admitted he used the license number of a registered  architect he found on the internet and created a fake registered architect stamp in his own name, officials said. He then put that stamp to inspection letters submitted to municipalities across the state. 

Newman also took the professional engineer stamp of a licensed engineer he worked with at some point and used the stamp illegally on more than 1,000 pages of building plans.

Despite the allegations, building officials in Malta, Clifton Park and Albany all noted after Newman’s arrest that inspectors keep close eyes on projects to ensure buildings are up to code. An Albany official said they reviewed the projects there and found no reason to revoke certificates of occupancy.

In all, Newman pleaded guilty to one count of third-degree grand larceny, two counts each of first-degree scheme to defraud and second-degree forgery, and one count of unauthorized practice of a profession.

Newman was the sole employee of Cohesion Studios, a Rensselaer-based architectural design company. 

Categories: -News-, Schenectady County

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