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NY Bridge Inspector Charges Wreak Havoc

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

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The safety of many bridges in Connecticut is now in question after the arrest earlier this year in New York of a bridge inspector accused of faking an inspection report.

Akram Ahmad, listed as 57 years old and living in Bridgeport, CT, was arrested in May after an investigation by the office of New York State Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott allegedly found evidence that Ahmad falsified an inspection he was supposed to have performed in Hamilton County, New York.

The Charges

Ahmad has been charged in New York with Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree, Forgery in the Second Degree and Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree, all felonies. The charges stem from a 2013 inspection of a vehicular bridge in the town of Wells, NY, northwest of Albany.

NY Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott
New York State Inspector General

The office of New York State Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott (pictured) allegedly found evidence that Ahmad falsified a bridge inspection.

According to the inspector general, Ahmad, working for a private subcontractor, inspected the bridge in 2012 and noted certain deficiencies. The deficiencies were addressed that year, but when Ahmad filed an inspection of the same bridge in late 2013, he allegedly noted the same deficiencies, using the same language.

Local officials added that it would have been difficult to inspect the bridge at the time Ahmad said he did, because of snow and ice in the area. Early the next spring, an inspection showed that in fact the deficiencies Ahmad had allegedly noted did not exist.

At the time of the alleged bad inspection, Ahmad worked for DKI Engineering, a subcontractor for the New York Department of Transportation, according to the inspector general’s office. A request for comment from DKI wasn't returned as of Tuesday (July 19).

Connecticut Connection

After the arrest, it came to light that Ahmad had been responsible for inspections of many Connecticut bridges.

The Hartford Courant reported that Ahmad was team leader on the inspections of 35 bridges the newspaper deemed “significant.” A representative of Connecticut’s Department of Transportation told the paper that those 35 bridges would be re-inspected. It’s unclear as yet what costs the state will pick up and what will be paid by the subcontractors that employed Ahmad.

Main St. bridge over Whitehead Highway
By John Phelan, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Bridges inspected by Ahmad include those that support two streets, and the Hartford Public Library in between them, over Whitehead Highway.

The Courant also spoke with a DOT engineer and union official who argued that at least 300 bridges in the state should be re-inspected to clear any doubt about previous inspections.

In Connecticut, Ahmad worked for engineering firm VB Tech; he also worked for American Structural Engineering in New York, according to the newspaper.

The Courant reports that bridges inspected by Ahmad that will have to be re-inspected include many on or over I-84 and I-91 in the state, and several in and around the city of Hartford, including bridges that support two streets, and the Hartford Public Library in between them, over Whitehead Highway.

Headed to Trial

Ahmad’s case in New York has not yet gone to trial.

“This defendant was entrusted with inspecting vital State infrastructure, but he corrupted the process and falsified his own work,” said New York Inspector General Leahy Scott. “I will not tolerate anyone employed or contracted by the State who shows clear disdain for such critical work.”

   

Tagged categories: Asia Pacific; Bridges; Criminal acts; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Engineers; Inspection; Latin America; North America; Quality Control; Subcontractors

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