LITTLE FALLS - A Kane In Your Corner investigation is raising new questions about a FEMA house lifting project in Little Falls. Among them: was the work actually done by the company that won the contract or an unlicensed subcontractor?
The project was supposed to be completed in four months, but after more than twice that time, work on four homes is still not finished. Last week, a Kane In Your Corner investigation found virtually all of the FEMA funds are gone, distributed by the town prematurely in January before work was close to complete. That might not have been that big of a problem, except that the town also failed to collect a performance bond the contractor was required to post to guarantee the project.
Now, there are questions about whether that contractor actually did the work. According to the contract with Little Falls, the winning bidder was Unique Floors, LLC. But photos of the jobsite when work was going on show the name of a different company: Cruz Control Construction, Inc. The latter company has not been registered in New Jersey since 2013.
Little Falls administrator Charles Cuccia says if two separate companies were involved in the project, the town knew nothing about it. "We hired Unique Floors," he says. Cuccia says he was told Cruz Perez, the owner of Cruz Control Construction, was "a vice president or officer in Unique Floors."
That's not what Unique Floors owner Lou Slater says. Asked by News 12 New Jersey's Walt Kane whether Perez was "a vice president in your company, or anything like that", Slater replied "No, he was just a subcontractor." Slater calls hiring Perez "a bad business deal," adding "I wish I could do it all over again."
Cuccia says if there was a subcontracting deal in place, that would have been a contractual violation, but he insists the town could not possibly have known about such a deal while work was going on. Some of the homeowners don't believe that. One of them, Yvette Reyes, points out that town building inspectors visited her property weekly, yet somehow failed to notice that the name on the signs on her property didn't match the name of the company the town hired.
"Inspections were done and nobody caught it?" she wonders. "How is that possible?"
Perez did not return repeated phone calls. His attorney insists any work Perez did was on behalf of the official contractor and not his own, unlicensed company. Kane In Your Corner asked the attorney why, if Cruz Control Construction was not involved, theirs were the only signs on the job site? The attorney admitted he had no answer for that.