As New York City-based contracting giant Bovis Lend Lease prepares to cope with possible new legal trouble, the firm announced on June 15 the surprise resignation of Executive Vice President James Abadie, its top operations executive in the city, a veteran of nearly three decades with the firm and a major participant in local construction groups and collective bargaining activities. Bovis did not say why Abadie resigned as principal-in-charge of its New York office, only stating that he would be replaced in that role by Senior Vice President Ralph Esposito, a marketing executive and a 13-year veteran.
A Bovis spokeswoman confirms that Bovis is "cooperating fully" in two new criminal probes by federal and local prosecutors in New York into alleged overbilling, labor-union bribes and other activities by company officials. But she declined to confirm speculation that Abadie will have a continuing relationship with Bovis to assist it should any charges arise from those investigations. The firm also has been criticized in its role as general contractor for demolition of the 9/11-damaged Deutsche Bank building in Manhattan at which a 2007 fire killed two city firefighters. Bovis was not prosecuted, but its site safety manager and two subcontractor officials face criminal charges. Abadie declined comment, but industry associates and competitors credit him as a "problem solver" and Bovis' "master builder."