The city of Bridgeport, Conn., owes a contractor almost $8 million in a cost overrun dispute regarding construction at the Arena at Harbor Yard, which began in 2000.
The state Supreme Court rejected Bridgeport’s claim that the contract to build the 10,000-capacity arena was obtained through corruption, the Connecticut Post reported. The court upheld a lower-court finding that contractor C.R. Klewin Northeast was entitled to $6 million plus interest for last-minute construction.
The city had paid Klewin $44 million before the final bill came into dispute, the paper said. The city argued that because the contract was obtained through corruption, it didn’t need to pay the rest.
"The city consistently alleged the contract was procured illegally, but there was no evidence to support that claim," said Klewin attorney Daniel Klau.
The city based part of its argument on testimony during former Bridgeport Mayor Joseph Ganim’s racketeering trial in 2003 in which a partner of Ganim testified he split a $25,000 payment from Klewin with Ganim. He said the payment represented a kickback for securing contracts for the Arena as well as the baseball park at Harbor Yard.
Ganim is serving a nine-year prison sentence on 16 federal corruption charges.
The court didn’t rule whether the Klewin contract was obtained legally, saying the city took too long to raise that issue. The high court opinion said the court agreed the city should have raised the issue during the two-year-plus arbitration phase regarding the final bill.
City officials were not pleased with the decision.
"This case arose out of the corruption of the public contracting process that occurred during the administration of former Mayor Ganim," Brian Donnell, an attorney representing the city, told the Post. "The specifics of the corruption that related to the Arena project remained hidden from the public until the criminal trial of the former mayor during early 2003. The city is disappointed with the decision and is assessing its options at present."