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Pfeiffer pulls equipment off unfinished job

Niagara Falls Repoerter

June 19 , 2012

By Frank Parlato Jr.

David Pfeiffer Lewiston Road
David Pfeiffer owes creditors for work they performed faithfully. A storm  receiver on Tenth Street, installed by Mr. Pfeiffer’s company is more than a foot from the curb.


The jig may be up for Man O’ Trees. 

Last week, in the wake of an expose by the Niagara Falls Reporter on his failure to finish the Lewiston Road paving project, and the threat of looming creditors, David Pfeiffer removed his equipment from the job site to an undisclosed location.

The proposed two-year job, now in its fourth year, was originally bid at $7,713,000 by Mr. Pfeiffer’s Man O Trees Inc. He was $1.3 million lower than the next lowest bidder.

Change orders raised the price to $8,490,743.
While he was paid $7,130,684 or 84 percent of the total price, the job is only 45 percent complete.

Besides not finishing the work, the Reporter learned Mr. Pfeiffer apparently did not pay suppliers, according to mechanics liens filed with notice to the City of Niagara Falls and interviews conducted by this paper.

Liens filed on March 21, 2012 against Mr. Pfeiffer show he failed to pay Lafarge North American Inc., a supplier of road materials, $236,566 for materials on Lewiston Road.

Mallare Enterprises filed a lien on March 29, 2012, for $49,570 for unpaid trucking and excavation work done on Lewiston Road.

Numerous other creditors, contacted by the Reporter, said they were stiffed by Mr. Pfeiffer.

Arnold Paolini, owner of South Buffalo Electic, told the Reporter he is about to file Mechanic’s liens against Mr. Pfeiffer totaling $255,000 for poles, signals and underground wiring for work he did.
Is he delinquent on your bill?

“Oh, God, yes. I called him last week and I got another song and dance,” Mr. Paolini said, “What can I do? I’m in line with (other unpaid creditors). He owes me more than quarter of a million.” 

Mayor Paul Dyster told the Reporter his legal department has given Mr. Pfeiffer’s insurance company, the Hanover Insurance Group, an ultimatum to honor their performance bond or wind up in court. Hanover guaranteed Mr. Pfeiffer would complete the work as a condition of his getting the public road job.

“You know my leadership style is to try to compromise and craft a win-win arrangement,” said Mayor Dyster, stopping short of saying this tact was impossible with Mr. Pfeiffer or Hanover.

Mr. Pfeiffer has retained Niagara Falls attorney John P. Bartolomei, widely known as one of the premier litigators in Western New York.

Richard Palladino, business manager of Local 91, said his members were working at the Lewiston Rd. site until Mr. Pfeiffer stop working there last year.

Palladino expressed dismay that the 2012 season is half over and the job is shut down. 

“In 52 years in the construction business, I’ve never seen a job of this size left undone. You can argue about who pays for what, but it is not right to leave the job unfinished and a hazard as it is now.” 

Mr. Pfeiffer has claimed he had to leave the work unfinished because he “discovered” high radioactive levels in slag buried under the road that presented imminent danger to neighbors. He said the job had to be converted from a road job to a hazardous waste cleanup job and demanded payment of $9.6 million more than his contract price, or $3,840 per yard to remove the contaminated slag instead of what he originally bid to remove it, $35 per yard.

Lori Severino, a spokesperson for the DEC, disputed his claim as “fraudulent” and “illegal.”

DEC officials said the slag poses “no immediate threat” to residents. Mr. Pfeiffer contended he knew better and accused the city and state of a cover-up.

Mr. Palladino said the idea of the DEC engaging in a cover-up is highly unlikely. Referring to Mr. Pfeiffer, he said, “After you tell people that you think [the slag] is contaminated, your moral obligation is complete. To not finish the job you were paid to finish and to (attempt to) clean outside the perimeters of the job is not legal or moral.

“He is governed by DOT. This is a road job. If contaminants are outside the right of way, they are not going to pay him. To chase it through someone’s yard then demand payment is wrong.”

Then is the problem really financial and Mr. Pfeiffer's claims of excessively contaminated material a ruse?

Mr. Palladino said “something does not add up. In this case, two plus two does not equal four."

This is not the first time Mr. Pfeiffer has been in a conflict with employers or vendors. In a much-publicized dispute with the Seneca Nation, both sides said they did not get what they bargained for during the construction of the Hickory Stick Golf Course in Lewiston.

In April, 2010, Mr. Pfeiffer won a second public works road job with Niagara Falls, this time under his company, Sue/Perior Concrete.
The job was to rebuild 10th St. and Cedar. Mr. Pfeiffer was low bidder at $3,523,000. The next lowest bid was Mark Cerrone Inc. at $3,748,765, followed by several other bidders.

Mr. Pfeiffer won the bid by $225,765.

Mechanic liens were later filed against Mr. Pfeiffer for that job by Mallare Enterprises for $8,738. Lafarge also filed a lien on March 21, 2012 for $199, 276 for unpaid materials on Tenth St.

On top of that, Rich Walker of Jeanine Walker Enterprises Inc., of Niagara Falls, told the Reporter that Mr. Pfeiffer stiffed his company for more than $20,000 on the Tenth St. job.

In a touch or irony, at the least, Mr. Pfeiffer beat Cerrone by $225,765 then failed to pay for materials and services amounting to at least $228,014.

All told Mr. Pfeiffer appears to be seriously delinquent with more than $750,000 to unpaid creditors. According to sources this is just the tip of the iceberg.

* * *
On a tour of Lewiston Road and Tenth St. with Paul Marinaccio, owner of Accadia Site Contracting Inc., the Reporter saw a number of “problems” with Mr. Pfeiffer's work, including irregular “reveals” (height) on curbs which will measure from more than 7 inches to less the 4 inches with blacktop.

A curb, when the road is finished, should have a six-inch reveal. In some instances only a few feet of distance shows marked differences in curb height. Sidewalks were irregular in width. Driveways were too steep. Another “flaw” was that receivers for storm drains were not flush with the curb but out into the street more than a foot from the curb, an odd sight to say the least.
According to one local city engineer, “this might not warrant complete removal but it is a flaw.”

Perhaps more significantly, the binder has opened up and will have to be milled and replaced - a hige expenses - according to several contractors who inspected the site.

Mr. Marinaccio, who worked with Mr. Pfeiffer in the past and later had to sue him, said, “ Lewiston Road , once paved, will unravel within a year. You will end up with a roller coaster. He can’t build a road if it hit him in the face.”
Why did Mr. Pfeiffer walk off the job?

“He got all the damn money out of the job, did not pay Lafarge and did the job wrong," Mr. Marinaccio said. "Of course he walked. Those poor people on Lewiston Rd., they should get a rope and hang him.”

(David Pfeiffer did not return multiple calls made to his office and his attorney’s office seeking comment.)


  Copyright © 2008 Frank Parlato Jr.