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Builder accuses N.H. city of theft

Says documents in construction dispute altered

MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Police are investigating a builder's allegation that a city official ordered consultants to steal and alter documents about school renovations.

Gilbane Building Co. is in a $10 million legal battle with the city over its $105 million contract to renovate and expand most of the city's schools. Gilbane says the city has withheld payment and demanded work not covered in the contract. The two sides are scheduled to enter mediation in March.

Now the company says a city official ordered two consultants overseeing the construction to steal documents about the extra work from a Gilbane construction trailer last week, according to a police report obtained by the New Hampshire Union Leader.

Gilbane officials said they recovered the documents from the consulting firm DMJM Harris. Company spokesman Wes Cotter said the documents were requisition forms guaranteeing the city would pay "tens of thousands" of dollars for work done by Gilbane subcontractors, but when the documents were returned, all the figures had been altered to read $0.

"There's no doubt about what happened," Cotter said.

Officials at DMJM Harris Inc. referred questions to City Hall, where City Attorney Thomas Pappas said there was no truth to the accusations.

"The city adamantly denies that it instructed a DMJM employee to enter the Gilbane trailer and take a document and then alter that document," Pappas said.

The city hired DMJM Harris in 2003 to monitor Gilbane. The two companies work out of trailers next to each other.

According to the police report, Gilbane project manager Rene Pincince said he suspected the papers were taken on Nov. 13 or Nov. 14, when the trailer was unoccupied and unlocked.

When DMJM Harris officials were confronted, they said one of their inspectors had taken the documents and that a different inspector had altered them, according to the police report.

Both men said they were following orders, according to the report.

"Bruce and Kevin told Gilbane that they were told to do so by a city employee who was their supervisor," police wrote.

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