Rotterdam developer Timothy Larned and two of his associates are being sued by Plank LLC, which claims the trio bilked more than a half-million dollars by overbilling for materials never delivered to five major projects in the greater Capital Region.
The 28-page lawsuit filed in state Supreme Court of Schenectady County on March 28 names Larned’s business, William Larned & Sons, and Rex Earth, a limited liability company sharing its mailing address. Paul DiCocco, a Larned employee, and Frank Corradi, the head of Plank’s earthwork division, were also named in the action.
The lawsuit claims the three men each had a share in Rex Earth and that they created the company specifically to overbill Plank, a Schenectady-based contractor. Corradi, working as a manager for the earthwork division, negotiated bogus deals with Rex Earth in which Plank would get overcharged for materials that were either never brought to sites or brought in amounts less than claimed on company invoices, the lawsuit charges.
“Corradi provided substantial assistance to the fraudulent scheme by purporting to enter into fake oral contracts with Rex Earth for site work on Plank projects, by participating in the generation of false invoices that were sent to Plank and by intentionally and materially altering trucking tickets when questioned by Plank,” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit charges DiCocco and Larned both had knowledge of the scheme, and that Larned’s business generated false invoices that were sent to Plank and had payments to Rex Earth deposited in its accounts.
The projects involved in the overbilling include the Marantha Family Center in Richmondville, the Fink Equipment headquarters in Selkirk, the Mansion Square development in Niskayuna, Richmor Aviation’s new hangar in Glenville, and a project at Basset Hospital in Cobleskill.
The lawsuit indicates Plank officials received an anonymous tip about the scam in February 2014 and confronted the three men. They responded with trucking tickets from November 2013 that were “materially altered,” according to the lawsuit.
Plank accuses Rex Earth of taking the overpayment on each occasion and then dispersing it to Larned, DiCocco or Corradi individually.
Plank is asking for a judgment of $539,089. The company is also asking the court to prevent the defendants from spending the money Plank paid them.
Christopher Buckey, the attorney representing Plank, did not return a call for comment. A call placed to Plank also was not returned.
Karl Sleight, Larned’s defense attorney, is also representing him in the civil matter. He intends to respond to the lawsuit “in due course.”
“This litigation provides an ample opportunity for a detailed examination of Plank Construction, its senior management and business practices,” he said in an email Monday.
The civil action comes less than a month after Corradi and Larned were charged with felony counts of grand larceny, money laundering and falsifying business records. DiCocco was mentioned in the criminal complaint against his two business associates but hasn’t been charged in the case.
Investigators say the three men organized Rex Earth in April 2013 used it to hire independent truckers to supply Plank with materials, and then arranged for an invoice to be sent to Corradi for payment. The amount of materials being brought in by Rex Earth — a company that shares a Schenectady post office box with Larned’s business — didn’t add up to what Corradi was submitting on the invoices, an investigation later determined. When police reviewed the records, they found that Rex Earth had bilked roughly $373,000 from Plank on 11 occasions between May 2013 and January 2014.