Attorney General Richard Blumenthal this week acknowledged the existence of an investigation into contracts at American School for the Deaf construction projects, which were managed by the state’s Department of Public Works.“We have a whistle blower complaint we’re investigating on alleged contract irregularities at the American School for the Deaf,” Blumenthal said.The attorney general’s office issued at least two subpoenas so far, ctnewsjunkie.com has learned. Blumenthal refused to confirm or deny the subpoenas, but it was after ctnewsjunkie.com asked questions about them that he confirmed the existence of the investigation.
One subpoena went to DPW Commissioner James Fleming for a range of documents, according to DPW spokesman Jeffrey Beckham. Fleming and the department are cooperating with the attorney general’s office, Beckham says.Another subpoena went to David Wlodkowski, a DPW project manager who once worked on an ASD renovation project. The subpoena also named architect Ira Hessmer, Wlodkowski’s wife. Through their attorney, William Sweeney of New Britain-based Sweeney & Griffen, the couple filed a motion to quash Blumenthal’s subpoena in Hartford Superior Court last week.It is unclear whether Wlodkoswki and Hessmer are targets of Blumenthal’s probe. Sweeney declined comment, saying his motion speaks for itself. Asked if his office intends to fight the motion to quash, Blumenthal answered “absolutely.“A $13 million ASD renovation project made news last year because the state had originally retained Kaestle Boos. Associates Inc. as the architects. Eventually, details came to light that the firm provided former DPW Commissioner Theodore Anson free architectural plans for an addition to his Bridgewater home. Fleming withdrew the contract from Kaestle Boos. in January 2004 and put it back out to bid.Blumenthal’s investigation appears to stretch beyond these events, however. The Wlodkowski subpoena seeks any and all documents concerning any ASD project in which he or his wife had any involvement or participation, along with “all documents concerning payments made” by Conn-Strux, a contractor on an ASD job, to Wlodkowski, Hessmer and two other companies, according to the motion to quash.In addition, the subpoena seeks all documents concerning purchase orders and change orders for any ASD project, the motion says, along with job logs, field notes, journals and resumes of Conn-Strux agents who were involved in the bidding on ASD work.Conn-Strux President Anna Badera referred all questions to the company’s attorney, Jared Cohane of Hartford-based Pepe & Hazard. Cohane refused to comment on whether his client also received a subpoena.But Conn-Strux is currently in arbitration with the state over work the company performed at the ASD, Cohane says.Blumenthal also acknowledged the arbitration. Asked about the propriety of pursuing a whistle blower investigation involving a company his office also opposes in an arbitration proceeding, Blumenthal says his office often pursues whistle blower complaints against state agencies, while representing them in other areas. The whistle blower unit is walled off from those other functions, he says.The Wlodkowski subpoena also seeks documents regarding payments made by Conn-Strux to A-N Consulting Engineers Inc., a Berlin-based engineering firm. A-N Consulting is cooperating with the state in the Conn-Strux arbitration, says company president Frank Dawidowicz, who has agreed to appear as an expert witness on the state’s behalf. The company performed site work at an ASD project, and says construction at the school is complete.Dawidowicz also recalls receiving a subpoena from the attorney general’s office, but could not remember whether it related to the arbitration, or to the whistle blower complaint. He declined to check the document or provide a copy to ctnewsjunkie.com.A-N Consulting also employs Alan Nafis, who is married to state Rep. Sandy Nafis (D-Newington). State Rep. Nafis said she had not heard about the attorney general’s investigation and has no involvement with her husband’s business whatsoever.