Attorney General's Office investigating Beach Club bid rigging allegations
Roofing contractor David B. Taylor says 'my contract is solid there'
MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – The Florida Attorney General's Office confirms that investigators are currently reviewing allegations of bid rigging at a West Miami-Dade condo complex to determine if any antitrust laws have been violated.
Condo owners contacted "Call Christina' with concerns about irregularities in the bid proposal process at The Beach Club at Fontainebleau Park.
Records obtained by the Call Christina team document connections between David B. Taylor, the roofing contractor who won the bid, and employees at the two other companies that submitted proposals.
In an interview last week with investigative reporter Christina Vazquez, Taylor said: "It is an open bid. Yes, I gave the bid out, it's open, the more bids that the people get helps the community. So I am helping the community giving out, yes, go bid it, but that's all I did, tell them about the bid and that's it."
In an email, Kylie Mason, press secretary for the Office of Attorney General Pam Bondi, said: "While the Department of Business and Professional Regulation is the agency that regulates any licensing issues on this matter, our office is the agency to review allegations of bid rigging. We are currently reviewing this matter to determine if any antitrust laws have been violated."
The Beach Club's new board recently hired attorney Russell Jacobs, who said investigators with the Florida Attorney General's Office, "Are subpoenaing us for documents right now relating to all of the contracts."
Jacobs went on to say: "The whole thing is disgusting when you think about it. This is a situation where a contractor and several other people have taken advantage of an association. There are a group of poor people who really don't have a lot of money and it's made very clear, at least from the documents that I have seen, that they created a scheme to present themselves as three separate contractors, when in fact it's really all connected to one."
In an interview that was at times both combative and candid, Taylor told Vazquez: "My contract is solid there and they are not going to get anyone to do the work cheaper ... what's going to happen is if they fire me we are going to sue them and they are going to be in a worse situation."
At the time, Taylor submitted his bid to The Beach Club under the company name D&T General Contracting his other company, Taylor Contracting and Roofing, was under a stop work order related to a workers comp case.
According to the Department of Financial Services, if Taylor were to start a new company, a so-called successor stop worker order would be issued to the new company.
Yet checks obtained by the Call Christina team show payments made to D&T General Contracting by The Beach Club at the time the stop work order was in effect.
The Department of Business and Professional Regulation allowed Taylor to continue working at The Beach Club as a qualifier for a company called Icon Contracting Services.
Last week, Icon sent The Beach Club a sternly written letter telling them they are suspending all work, alleging breach of contract and demanding access to plans and permits.
"I guess they are very aggressive," Jacobs said. "And I think they think that if they can scare us we will go away. But this isn't going away. This is only going to get deeper."
In an e-mail, Thomas D. Martens of Icon Contracting Services said: "As I'm sure you can understand, I am deeply concerned for the residents of that community. Very important work on the 40-year re-certification is now at risk. Getting that work back on track as soon as possible is a priority."
Some condo owners have also expressed concern about the way the three board members who approved the roofing bid secured their positions in the first place.
They allege voter fraud.
Those claims are now the subject of an on-going Miami-Dade Police Department forgery investigation.
The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) regulates and licenses contractors. It is also home to the Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares, and Mobile Homes.
Some Beach Club condo owners, like current board member Katherine Castro, have said they want to see DBPR investigators step up, step-in, and investigate.
Travis Keels, press secretary for the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, told the Call Christina team: "Under Florida Statute Section 455.225(10), the department cannot confirm or deny the existence of any complaints or investigations against licensed professionals until 10 days after probable cause has been found."
Last month, Taylor's attorney, Michael Reppas, said: "It is the obligation of the Board of The Beach Club to control and conduct its own bidding process, whether through the board's attorney or through board members -- not that of a vendor. It is the board's sole obligation and responsibility to conduct and perform its own bidding process. The implication that David Taylor or D&T General Contracting, Inc., somehow controlled the decision of the board and/or their attorney is completely false and unfounded."
Meanwhile, the attorney who was retained by the board members who were in place at the time of the proposal process, told the Call Christina team he was not asked to review, nor did he review, the validity of any of the companies.
"At a duly noticed board meeting, the board of directors selected one of the companies based on price. The board of directors requested that I review the terms of the contract to make sure that it complied with the scope of work required for the 40-year recertification," Hector Martinez said. "I did not make any recommendations to the board of directors as to which companies to choose. My involvement was solely reviewing the terms of the contract to ensure compliance with county requirements."
THE BEACH CLUB BIDS
THE WINNING BID: D&T General Contracting
It was a more than $5 million job and it was awarded to D&T General Contracting, which state records show is run by Taylor.
Taylor has also worked under the business name Taylor Contracting and Roofing.
In records obtained by the Call Christina team from the Florida Department of Financial Services, Taylor Contracting and Roofing has been on the hook for a penalty worth more than a quarter of a million dollars related to a worker's comp case.
The department issued a final order, saying that until the $279,538.66 penalty was paid in full and proof of compliance was provided, "Employer shall immediately cease all business operations in the state of Florida."
A referral was made to the Division of Insurance Fraud as a result of the Division of Workers' Compensation investigation of the employer for violating section 440, F.S.
A copy of the Final Order was sent to Taylor Contracting and Roofing Inc., which was filed March, 25, 2015.
Less than two months later, on May 15, 2015, Taylor submitted a bid to The Beach Club under the company name D&T General Contracting, Inc.
According the Department of Financial Services, the final order filed in March applies narrowly to the employer, Taylor Contracting & Roofing Inc. to cease business operations. According to a department spokeswoman: "Our understanding is that if during the time of the Stop Work order, Taylor were to start or purchase a new company, a so-called successor Stop Work order would be issued so the new company also cannot conduct business operations until the requirements have been met."
In June of 2015, the Florida Department of Financial Services, Division of Workers' Compensation Bureau of Compliance sent Taylor Contracting and Roofing a notice of lien since the $279,000 penalty had yet to be paid.
The letter dated June 22, 2015 added, "failure to satisfy the lien may impact contractor licensure."
The unpaid assessed penalty has been forwarded to a collection agency.
According to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation's (DBPR) website, both of Taylor's state-issued and regulated licenses are listed as current and active until August 31.
Taylor is now working under the name Icon Contracting Services as a qualifier, a move his attorney said state regulators approved.
"He is the qualifier of Icon Contracting Services, but not the owner of said business," Reppas said. "Florida's Department of Business and Professional Regulation fully approved Mr. Taylor's involvement and relationship with Icon Contracting Services."
NORTHEAST CONTRACTING CORPORATION:
The other bid submitted to The Beach Club in May of 2015 was from a company called Northeast Contracting Corporation.
According to the about page on the company's website, "NECC is a family owned-business. Brothers Eion and Sean Kelley are especially involved in the daily operations of the business, ensuring we can stand firmly behind our products and services."
The Florida Department of State Division of Corporations has a business listing filed under the company name Northeast Roofing Corp. that shows Eion Kelley as the president.
It includes the address 85 Fiesta Way, Fort Lauderdale. That is the same address listed for Taylor on DBPR's website.
In a 2015 annual report filed in January of 2015, the company's vice president is listed as Patricia A. Tepper.
In state records obtained by the Call Christina team, Tepper is listed as an employee of Taylor.
In Taylor Contracting and Roofing Inc's worker's compensation case with the Florida Department of Financial Services, an investigator notes in 2014 that the company roster included the name Patricia A. Tepper.
"I called the office for the employer and spoke with Patricia Tepper, who confirmed that the workers at site were their employees," the investigator's note states. "She stated that Erica Taylor was out of the state but that she would have her husband David Taylor, who ran the company, call me."
Also in the 2015 annual report for Northeast Roofing Corp. filed with the Division of Corporations, the address 2616 Griffin Road, Fort Lauderdale, is listed under both Tepper and Kelley's names.
The address is also the listed business address for Taylor's Taylor Contracting and Roofing.
Eion Kelley has a certified roofing license in Florida. DBPR's website shows it is current and active until August 31.
Requests for a comment sent to Patricia Tepper's cell phone, Facebook account and email went unreturned.
In an email, Kelley told the Call Christina team: "Northeast Roofing Corp remains committed to its bid, which was made in good faith. To the degree it was awarded the bid, Northeast would have completed the project pursuant to the terms and conditions set forth by the association."
If this company really wanted to win a $5.5 million job, the proposal from a company called "Tri-County Inc." was surprisingly short on details.
It was just a few bullet points on a single page.
The Weston address on the proposal is a home that Broward County Property Records show used to be owned by Patricia Tepper's parents, Gary and Anne Tepper.
The last time the Teppers' lived at that Weston address was in 2011.
State records show Gary and Anne Tepper were once listed as directors of a company called TCI-Consolidated-Tri County Incorporated but that company dissolved in 2009.
If Tepper was bidding on this roofing job, he didn't have a roofing license to perform the work.
On DBPR's website, he has a certified underground utility and excavation contractor's license.
The main address posted on DBPR's website for that license is 461 SW 54th Avenue, Plantation.
That is the same address on the letterhead of Northeast Contracting Corp's Beach Club proposal for the job.
Requests for a comment sent to the Teppers via phone, Facebook message and email went unreturned.
In an interview with Vazquez Taylor stated:
David B. Taylor: It is an open bid, yes I gave the bid out, it’s open, the more bids that the people get helps the community. So I am helping the community giving out, yes, go bid it, but that's all I did, tell them about the bid and that's it.
Christina Vazquez: You told the Teppers’'about the bid?
David B. Taylor: Yes.
Christina Vazquez: and Eion Kelley about the bid?
David B. Taylor: Yes, yes.
Christina Vazquez: So when you hear condo owners there express some concern that perhaps there was collusion, all of you folks working together…
David B. Taylor: So who is in charge of that is the board and the board goes and gets the bids which they did. I don't control the board; I don't tell the board what to do. I gave them my bid and I got the bid.
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