Men charged in bill scheme involving city housing

Two accused of inflating costs of repair projects

June 17, 2000|By Eric Siegel | Eric Siegel,SUN STAFF

Two Maryland men have been charged by a federal grand jury with submitting false and inflated bills to the Housing Authority of Baltimore City for maintenance and repair work on several public housing properties.

Harvey L. Adler of Columbia, owner of Adler Services Group of Elkridge, was charged with 10 counts of making fraudulent statements. Scott B. Dower of Pasadena, a former vice president of the company, was charged with eight counts.

If convicted, the men will face a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each count of the indictment, prosecutors said.

Andrew Radding, an attorney for the 51-year-old Adler, said his client is innocent.

"We deny any culpability," said Radding.

Efforts to reach Dower, 38, were unsuccessful.

The indictment does not specify how much money Adler Services Group allegedly received because of fictitious billing statements. It says the total amount billed by the company to the city's public housing agency under two contracts covering October 1992 to December 1997 was $732,834.

According to the indictment, handed down late Wednesday, Adler caused his company to submit invoices for repair and maintenance work on gas- and oil-fired furnaces that billed for services that were never performed and inflated the cost of parts.

Adler and Dower directed technicians to install parts that were not needed and to inflate the number of hours they worked by two or more times, the indictment says.

The 10 counts of the indictment refer to alleged instances of inflated hours from June 1995 to December 1997. In one case, Adler and Dower caused the company to falsely report that 9.5 hours of labor were required to complete service at a HABC-owned house in the 4600 block of Reisterstown Road, despite knowing the work took less time, the indictment says.

The charges of false billing are similar to those raised in a $25 million no-bid repair program run by the housing authority in the mid-1990s that resulted in the criminal conviction of an authority employee and half a dozen contractors.

The indictment of Adler and Bower is unrelated to the earlier program and is not part of a new widespread investigation, a source familiar with the case said.

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