Court upholds penalty against state contractor

Hartford (AP) - Connecticut's second-highest court on Wednesday upheld a $222,000 judgment for the state in connection with a college construction project involving contractors tied to the corruption investigations of former Gov. John Rowland and ex-Waterbury Mayor Philip Giordano.

The Appellate Court affirmed the penalty a lower court imposed on Bethel-based Worth Construction last year for being 74 days late in finishing a $38 million renovation and addition at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven in 2005. Worth initiated the court case in 2007, when it sued the state Department of Public Works for breach of contract for failing to pay the company $1.4 million for some work on the project.

But the state filed counterclaims, including that Worth didn't finish the job on time.

A lawyer for Worth didn't return a message seeking comment Wednesday.

Worth's former president, Joseph Pontoriero, was sentenced to six months of home confinement in 2010 for giving gifts to Giordano when Giordano authorized expedited payments to Worth for work on a city project. The gifts included $8,300 in designer clothing and a $12,000 loan.

Giordano was arrested in July 2001 on child sex charges revealed during the corruption investigation and sentenced to 37 years in prison.

An electrical contractor on the college project, Kurt Claywell of Simsbury, cooperated in the federal corruption probe that led to Rowland's resignation in 2004 and one-year prison sentence for corruption. Claywell, who wasn't charged, told authorities he gave Rowland expensive cigars and Champagne in exchange for access to state contracts. Claywell is now serving prison time on unrelated fraud charges.

Worth also claimed in its lawsuit that state public works officials in the Rowland administration pressured it into paying Claywell for expenses Claywell didn't deserve, but a judge ruled there was no proof to those claims.

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