Wake Authorities, SBI Investigating Miller Building Company
Posted August 14, 2002 5:37 a.m. EDT
RALEIGH, N.C. — During a slow economy, contractors know they may have to wait to get paid, but some believe Miller Building committed fraud and now investigators from the Wake County sheriff's office and the State Bureau of Investigation are on the case.
When subcontractors finished the multi-million interior renovation of the SpectraSite Communications office building in Cary, they expected to get paid by the general contractor Miller Building Corporation, but they did not.
When the subcontractors did not get their money, they followed standard procedures and tried to file liens of the property. They were surprised to learn they couldn't do that. SpectraSite produced documentation proving the company had, in fact, paid the bills to Miller Building.
Attorney LeAnn Rhodes represents several contractors owed money by Miller. She said in the SpectraSite project, Miller broke the law by certifying in writing that subcontractors had been paid, when in fact they had not.
"That lien waiver was false," Rhodes said. "Miller has lied to the owner, lied to its subs in order to obtain money and to avoid paying money."
Close to 20 contractors claim Miller hung them out to dry on the SpectraSite job. Some contractors claim they are owed over $100,000. Investigators estimate the total debt is $567,000.
"That's a significant amount of money that could hurt a lot of people," said Associated Fire Protection owner Ronnie Hahn.
Hahn said he feels fortunate that his sprinkler company lost only a few thousand dollars. Still, he hopes criminal charges will be filed.
"Would you be happy if someone stole $14,000 from you?" he said.
When Miller suddenly shut its Raleigh office doors earlier this year, sheriff's investigators went in looking for the money trail. Search warrants show they confiscated financial records and computer.
"Who benefitted by these waivers being issued and was there intent to defraud, if you will, our victims,"
Contractors hope the potential for prison time will motivate Miller Building to pay. So far, no charges have been filed.
The attorney for the Wilmington-based company has not returned calls from WRAL. Miller faces dozens of lawsuits on this and other projects.