President of New York Concrete Testing Company Convicted of Altering Test Results

The president of a concrete testing company that worked on such New York City landmarks as the new Yankee Stadium was convicted Wednesday of concocting phony test results, but a jury acquitted a low-level manager and has yet to reach a verdict on the top racketeering charge against the president and company.

Deliberations continued Wednesday on enterprise corruption -- the state's version of racketeering -- and other charges against Testwell Laboratories Inc., President V. Reddy Kancharla and Vice President Vincent Barone. They are accused of doctoring concrete and steel test results for more than 100 projects, including ground zero's signature Freedom Tower.

Kancharla looked downward but showed little emotion as he heard the partial verdict, which came in the fifth day of deliberations.

He and the company were found guilty of falsifying business records and offering a false instrument for filing -- charges linked to the stadium, the Freedom Tower, a JetBlue terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport and the forthcoming Second Avenue subway line, among other projects.

Those four projects and 18 others have been retested and found safe, the city Buildings Department says. But officials are awaiting retesting results for at least 60 other projects.

Kancharla's partial conviction alone could send him to prison for up to four years. But unlike enterprise corruption, those charges don't require prison time. Jurors haven't decided on any counts against Barone.

The manager, Wilfred Sanchez, left a Manhattan court subdued but relieved after the jury cleared him of enterprise corruption and other charges in a case he said had cost him his job and his Bronx home.

"His whole life has been upended because of this prosecution," defense lawyer Curtis Farber said. He said Sanchez, who had the title of manager but mainly worked as a steel inspector, had nothing to do with the allegedly bogus test results.

"He went to work each day, and for that he got prosecuted," Farber said.

Prosecutors and lawyers for the other defendants declined to comment.

The case involved 119 projects in and around the city, including schools, hospitals, hotels, museums and libraries.

Prosecutors said Testwell systematically altered -- or simply invented -- results for tests designed to ensure that buildings will hold up.

Defense lawyers said the company and executives didn't intend to defraud anyone. They said the allegations reflected contract disputes, honest errors and common industry practices -- not crimes.

Two Testwell engineers, Edward Porter and Michael Sterlacci, have pleaded guilty to conspiracy, acknowledging they knew that Testwell data on concrete formulas, or "mix designs," were false. Prosecutors say the company generated mix designs from a computer program instead of actually mixing the product and testing how it withstood pressure.

Neither Porter nor Sterlacci is expected to get jail time. Porter paid $100,000 as a forfeiture; Sterlacci is expected to pay more than $138,000.

Several other officials and employees are to be tried separately on various charges.

The case is part of a roster of prosecutions that arose from the city's recent building boom. Prosecutors say it was plagued by shortcuts and corruption in areas from crane safety to a city building inspection staff that included reputed mobsters.