Modern Continental giant of the Big Dig cops criminal charges, files bankruptcy
By Peter Samuel
The long expected criminal charges in the Mass Pike's mightily botched Big Dig project have finally landed on the project's major contractor Modern Continental Corp (Mod Con is the irresistible abbreviant). The company reacted yesterday by filing for bankruptcy.
The US Department of Justice (USDOJ) indicted Mod Con on 49 counts of negligent work, use of sub-standard materials, of knowingly filing false certification reports, submitting false time and materials documents, and fraud. The charges relate to the well known defects in slurry wall construction that led to a flooding incident and chronic leaks, and to the use of epoxy anchors for heavy ceiling panels that subsequently collapsed.
The company is also charged with major fraud over time and materials work including falsification of records, and representing apprentices as tradesmen to boost bills.
For several years during the height of the Dig Dig construction Mod Con was ranked the Number One construction company in the United States by value of its contract work, and celebrated by Big Dig boosters for its innovatory construction techniques.
But as the project went bad Mod Con had increasing trouble getting the Turnpike to pay bills and has been kept afloat by performance bond payments from Travelers Insurance. In the middle of that crisis the company's founder and leader Lelio ('Les') Marino fell ill and died. An immigrant from Italy in 1958, the company PR says he got his first building contract - $4k of sidewalk rehab - owning only a wheelbarrow and a shovel.
The company complained with substantial justification about chronic mismanagement of the Big Dig project by the state Turnpike and their project managers, a Bechtel-Parsons Brinckerhoff joint venture which reached a settlement with the US and the state in which it will pay some $400m in compensation for poor performance.