Two Cattaraugus County construction contractors illegally won government contracts, including work at Gallagher Beach and on the Union Ship Canal, by lying about their financial condition, according to U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr.
David Pfeiffer, 64, of Kill Buck, and Thomas Colton, 53, of Salamanca, were indicted on charges of mail fraud and conspiracy to commit mail fraud, Hochul said, and Pfeiffer also was charged with making a false statement to a financial institution. Both were released on bond.
Pfeiffer and Colton used Colton’s business, Sue-Perior Concrete & Paving, as a subcontractor on federal contracts, the indictment sates. Sue-Perior, in turn, was used to allow Pfeiffer’s construction company, Man O’ Trees, to obtain government contracts that it otherwise would not have received.
As a result of the alleged fraud, Pfeiffer and Colton illegally obtained three government construction contracts valued at $15.5 million for projects involving state Route 104, the Union Ship Canal and Gallagher Beach, according to the indictment.
Among the agencies defrauded between 2009 and 2013, the indictment says, were the U.S. Department of Transportation, the state Department of Transportation, the City of Niagara Falls, Buffalo Urban Development Corp. and the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority.
In addition, prosecutors said, Sue-Perior was improperly qualified as a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise, or DBE, by the NFTA based on a fraudulent application by Pfeiffer and Colton. The DBE program is used to help minority and economically disadvantaged contractors get work on federally funded construction projects.
The indictment also alleges that Pfeiffer submitted false personal financial statements to Five Star Bank to obtain credit extensions for his businesses.
Man O’ Trees was at the center of complaints about major flaws in government construction projects, including the botched reconstruction of Lewiston Road in Niagara Falls and the cracked concrete basin on the splash pad in Buffalo’s Martin Luther King Jr. Park.
Man O’ Trees went out of business in 2013 in the wake of mounting legal and financial woes after the firm’s bonding company had to step in to ensure that work was completed.