May 4, 2006

Six arrested for Boston “Big Dig” concrete fraud

BOSTON (Reuters) - Six men who supplied concrete to
Boston's infamous "Big Dig" road project were arrested on
Thursday for delivering sub-standard materials to the biggest
public works endeavor in U.S. history, federal officials said.

The men, who worked as managers at Aggregate Industries,
face a string of federal charges for falsifying paperwork to
recycle certain batches of concrete used in building the
underground roadway, said Gail Marcinkiewicz, a spokeswoman for
the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Boston.

Aggregate Industries, a unit of Swiss company Holcim Ltd.
and one of the world's largest cement makers, was the biggest
supplier of cement used in building the 7.8 mile (12.6-km)
street below downtown Boston.

A company spokesman did not return a call seeking comment.

State and federal officials last year launched a probe into
the matter after being tipped off by a whistle blower. When
state police raided company offices, they found that managers
had fraudulently reissued paperwork for concrete that had been
rejected elsewhere at the site.

Officials said the concrete was rejected because it did not
meet the strength specifications spelled out in the state's

Costs for building the roadway ballooned to $14.6 billion
from under $3 billion during the more than 14 years to finish
the work. The last major section was opened to motorists
earlier this year.

Although officials acknowledged last year that faulty
concrete was used, they also reassured travelers the tunnel,
which had been previously plagued by leaks, was safe.