SAN FRANCISCO-The San Francisco City Attorney has sent a notice to the federal district court here that it will seek to combine separate lawsuits alleging fraud in construction contracts at San Francisco International Airport.

All together, the city has filed suit against three construction companies, including Sylmar, CA-based Tutor-Saliba Corp., and three individuals involved in numerous contracts at the airport. The suit against Tutor-Saliba charges multiple violations of federal, state and local laws reportedly reaching more than $30 million in damages, forfeiture of profits and potentially tens of millions more in damages and penalties, according to the city attorney’s office.

The penalties would also come from two other companies–Perini of Massachusetts and Buckley & Co. of Pennsylvania. Perini, Buckley and Tutor Saliba won more than $620 million in contracts, but thanks to allegedly fraudulent actions, the projects now cost more than $980 million dollars–a 58% increase. None of the parties involved could immediately be reached for comment, but all have previosuly denied the allegations.

According to the city attorney’s office, Tutor-Saliba has completed several public works projects in the San Francisco Bay area and is currently working on BART’s extension to the airport and the seismic retrofit of the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge.

In 1996, the company was awarded contracts worth $620 million to work on the airport’s new international terminal. Tutor-Saliba soon increased construction costs through change orders totaling more than $100 million. The city attorney alleges that some of these particular change orders were based on inflated or false delays in construction.

The city further charges that the company conspired with subcontractors and paid minority companies to claim they were performing work that Tutor or non-minority companies were actually handling, falsely claiming credit under the city’s minority business ordinance.

The notice to the federal court was filed last week. It aims to link all of the Tutor Saliba cases, which are being tried separately, since all involve construction fraud. “These are related cases, and we’re putting the judges on notice that one might affect the other,” says Matt Dorsey, a spokesman for the city attorney’s office.

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