ALBANY – A man operating an architecture business out of Rensselaer was indicted on a host of charges for making drawings on more than 100 commercial and residential properties throughout three counties without being a licensed architect.
Paul Newman, 49, allegedly collected nearly $200,000 for making the drawings since 2010, said Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
The projects he was the architect on include Hannoush Jewlers in Colonie, The Patrues in North Greenbush, The Lofts in Malta and the Vistas Project in Clifton Park.
Newman, of Cohesion Studios, allegedly submitted the architectural renderings, as well as foundation inspections, field reports, energy compliance certificates, and engineer letters, to various towns and cities, falsely certifying on the documents that he was a registered and licensed architect and affixing a forged New York State Registered Architect Stamp or Professional Engineer Stamp.
The AG dubbed the sting, “Operation Vandelay Industries,” a reference to the sitcom Seinfeld where one of the lead characters, George Costanza, pretends to be an architect.
“As we allege, for over seven years the defendant has pretended to be a Registered Architect, deceiving hundreds of New Yorkers – including families and senior citizens — with the sole goal of enriching himself,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “By allegedly falsifying building plans, code compliance inspections, and field reports, the defendant jeopardized the safety of those who resided in and frequented the buildings he was contracted to work on.”
Newman allegedly advertised his architectural services and his company Cohesion Studios on various social media outlets until he became aware that a complaint had been filed with the New York State Education Department Office of the Professions. Soon after, Newman removed any reference to “architecture” in his ads and replaced it with “design.”
Newman was charged with 31 crimes including a host of felonies in Albany, Rensselaer and Saratoga County courts.
If convicted of the highest count charged, Newman faces up to 5 to 15 years in prison.