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Watchdog: Follow the Money

Building firm admits defrauding clients

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NEW YORK (AP) — One of the country's largest interior construction companies has agreed to forfeit $55 million after admitting it overcharged clients by inflating bills.

Structure Tone pleaded guilty Wednesday to a single count of falsifying business records.

It agreed to pay $55 million in a plea deal with the Manhattan district attorney's office.

DA Cyrus Vance called the deal "one of the largest forfeiture penalties ever imposed on a construction company." He says the invoices were systematically inflated between 2005 and 2009.

The Manhattan-based firm specializes in rebuilding interiors. Its projects have included St. Patrick's Cathedral and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

The firm says the plea would not impact its ability to complete existing and future projects. It says the company has strengthened its "compliance protocols to improve transparency."

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