NEW YORK (AP) — The Canadian owner of a company that won nearly $1 billion in contracts to provide steel to build the World Trade Center's tallest building and a sprawling transportation center sat quietly Tuesday as a prosecutor accused him of defrauding a program meant to boost the representation of minority and female workers in the historic rebuilding effort.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Kan Nawaday told Manhattan federal court jurors that Larry Davis, 65, of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, defrauded a program meant to benefit businesses owned by minorities and women by claiming the work was done by subcontractors who qualified for the program even though the work was actually done by his company and co-defendant, DCM Erectors Inc.
According to court papers, Davis from 2009 through 2012 caused false payroll records to be submitted for the project.
Attorney Sanford Talkin, representing Davis, told jurors that evidence in the case would fall "way short of expectations."
"Larry Davis is not guilty," he said. "Larry Davis did not defraud anybody."
He portrayed his client as a hero, saying he had dedicated his life to rebuilding the World Trade Center after the September 2001 terrorist attacks demolished two 110-story towers at the base of Manhattan.
Talkin said the new trade center needed to be a monument — strong, a symbol and practical.
His client, he added, "made that happen."
Sarah Aberg, an attorney for DCM Erectors, said the company made a "good faith effort" to comply with the regulations and was "completely transparent" in what it did.
"No crime happened here," she said.
She said Davis and his company erected steel frames that became the bones of the tallest trade center building and an 800,000-square-foot transportation hub where subway lines carry tens of thousands of passengers daily throughout New York City and to northern suburbs of New Jersey.
Davis has been free on bail since his arrest two years ago on wire fraud and conspiracy charges.
The government said DCM, which Davis has owned since at least 1999, was awarded a $256 million contract in 2007 to work on the trade center building and a $330 million contact in 2009 to help construct the transportation center next to it. Prosecutors said changes in the scope of the work boosted the value of contracts to nearly $1 billion.
The program to benefit minorities and women requires contractors to make good faith efforts to enter into subcontracts worth at least 17 percent of the overall contract with businesses owned by women and minorities.