An unlicensed subcontractor who had been kicked off a Metro Rail job and accused of payroll cheating is part owner of a firm that was subsequently hired in his place to work on downtown subway stations, transit district authorities acknowledged Monday.
Gregory C. Park is a partner in Citicon Inc., the firm that took over when the Park-owned PIE Construction Co. of Van Nuys was removed from the Metro Rail job because its contracting license had expired, Southern California Rapid Transit District officials said. Park had been accused of falsifying payroll records and pocketing up to half his workers' wages.
"Clearly (Park) was the same guy we had to remove last spring," said Greg Davy, transit district spokesman. Officials of the bonding company that had ensured that PIE would complete the $1.6-million project made the decision to hire Citicon to finish up when PIE was removed, Davy said. "We have no control over rehiring," Davy explained.
District officials contend that they knew nothing of the criminal investigation of Park's operations by either the state labor commissioner or the district attorney's office until news accounts of his arrest surfaced early last week. Park's interest in Citicon did not disqualify the firm from assuming the contract in May, just after PIE was removed from the project, they said.
According to the Los Angeles district attorney's office, Park was arrested on two felony complaints charging that he falsely reported paying up to $27.79 an hour to PIE employees. The workers endorsed PIE payroll checks and gave them back to their employers, accepting $12 to $15 an hour in cash, said Sandi Gibbons, a district attorney's office spokeswoman. Park is to be arraigned Sept. 11.
Park, 48, of San Dimas is a member of the Los Angeles County Citizens Planning Council, a body that makes recommendations to the county Regional Planning Commission. He was appointed to the post by Supervisor Pete Schabarum.
Park has denied that he or PIE cheated the workers. The firm was hired to install electrical conduit in two subway station projects. He acknowledged that the firm's license had lapsed and acknowledged that he is half-owner of Citicon. He said, "We (Citicon) are paying the prevailing wages."
The complex web of events began when PIE--designated a "disadvantaged enterprise" by the transit district and awarded contracts given to minority-run firms--let its contracting license lapse but continued to work for two prime contractors, Guy F. Atkinson Co. of South San Francisco and Tudor-Saliba-Perini Inc. of Sylmar.
When the transit district ordered PIE off the two jobs in May, there were allegations that the company was not paying prevailing wages and fringe benefits, as required on federally funded projects. Both the district attorney's office and the state labor commissioner said the investigation of Park's companies is ongoing.
RTD officials said they are watching Citicon payrolls closely and all indications are that the firm is paying the required prevailing wages.