ROGERS CITY - Presque Isle County Board of Commissioners Chair Carl Altman will ask police to investigate alleged criminal activity by a general contractor that performed work on new county offices.
Commissioners unanimously voted at their Friday meeting to give Altman and Michael Darga, county courthouse and grounds committee chairman, permission to ask the Michigan State Police to look into whether NorthShore Construction of Hubbard Lake broke any laws. Their vote came after Joe Libby, county resource officer, told them of the difficulty in closing the project, and a discrepancy between a sworn statement provided by the contractor and what he's discovered since it was given to the county.
Messages left for both contact numbers on NorthShore's website were not returned by press time.
In August, county officials met with NorthShore Construction to close on a project to renovate the new county annex, formerly Nowicki's Sausage Shoppe, Libby said. The county agreed to pay the contractor $20,000 once the subcontractors involved in the project were paid, and the contractor could provide documentation of this.
"Upon completion of paying them off, we'd get release of liens (on the building), and pay $20,000 to the contractor," he told commissioners. "That has not been done."
After several weeks of trying to contact NorthShore Construction, Libby began hearing from subcontractors involved in the project who are still owed money, he said. On Thursday, he was contacted by a supplier he said was not disclosed on the sworn statement provided by NorthShore.
"That supplier has since faxed me copies of what he is owed and signed for by the general contractor, and therefore the sworn statement was not accurate the first time it was submitted, and even less accurate as more and more have come out of the woodwork," he told commissioners.
After this transpired, Libby discussed the issue on Thursday with Prosecutor Richard Steiger, Altman, Darga and Michael Jermeay, a member of the MSP, he said. From there, he decided there might be reason to believe NorthShore Construction broke one or more laws.
On Friday, the county received a fax notifying them of NorthShore's impending bankruptcy proceedings, Libby said. He and Steiger stressed they and other county officials were considering approaching police before they were aware of the bankruptcy.
After the meeting, Altman said the county and NorthShore Construction had entered a contract where the owner would submit bills and the county would pay them.
"We did hold back a certain amount of money," he said. "We're still willing to pay that amount, and we offered to him that we're willing to pay what was being held back if he showed us that there was a clear lien by all these subcontractors, or service providers. We haven't received that."
It's still unclear whether the contractor actually broke any laws, Altman said, but he and Darga will ask the MSP to investigate.
Jordan Travis can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5688.