Inspector sentenced in bridge case

ALBANY — A Connecticut man has been sentenced to three years conditional discharge following his conviction for filing a false a false safety inspection of a Hamilton County bridge, according to state Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott

Akram Ahmad, 58, of Bridgeport, was sentenced on June 2 to $2,900 in fines and surcharges and a three year conditional discharge in Hamilton County Court.

The sentencing follows Ahmad’s March conviction in March on a felony charge of offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree.

According to Leahy Scott, a trial jury found Ahmad falsified the report he filed from a December 2013 inspection he purportedly performed on a bridge over the Elbow Creek in the town of Wells, Hamilton County.

“This defendant disregarded the public trust and shed any semblance of integrity by fabricating an inspection report for critical state infrastructure,” said Leahy Scott in a news release. “I will relentlessly pursue anyone who so brazenly abdicates their responsibility to public safety.”

Ahmad was originally charged in May 2016 with first-degree offering a false instrument for filing, second-degree forgery in the second degree and second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument.

An investigation by the inspector general and state and federal transportation officials found that Ahmad, an employee of Capital Region engineering firm DKI Engineering as subcontractor to conduct bridge inspections for the New York state Department of Transportation, inspected the Gilmantown Road bridge in late 2013.

The inspector general’s office said the bridge was previously inspected in 2012 when it was found to have various deficiencies, in particular, the inspection found erosion along a wing wall under the bridge and a “yellow flag” was issued indicating a warning for the bridge, but not a “critical” condition. The deficiencies in the 2012 inspection report were repaired in September 2013 in a project overseen by the Hamilton County highway department, but Ahmad’s subsequent inspection report of the same bridge three months after the repairs were made noted the same deficiencies and used much of the same language as the 2012 report, as if it were copied directly from it.

Leahy Scott said a town official at the time doubted an inspection could have been conducted in late 2013 due to ice and snow at the site. The state DOT was able to perform an inspection in early 2014 after the snow and ice cleared and found the repairs had been made and that the deficiencies Ahmad cited in his 2013 inspection report did not exist.

According to the news release, the state DOT inspects approximately 17,000 bridges across the state. To accomplish this they often contract the inspection work to private engineering firms.

The state DOT and the U.S. Department of Transportation assisted with the investigation. The Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office also gave assistance with the arrest and Hamilton County District Attorney Marsha King Purdue prosecuted this matter.

Kerry Minor can be reached at kminor@leaderherald.com.

By Patricia Older

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