Las Vegas Sun

October 25, 2014

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Steel fabrication business that owes state $400,000 surrenders license

A Las Vegas company that owes the state $428,000 for use of prison facilities has surrendered its license to the Nevada Contractors Board.

Randall Bulloch, president of Alpine Steel LLC, notified the board Wednesday that he wished to give up his license and said he is in the process of closing the business.

In 2011, Alpine Steel used inmate labor and facilities at the High Desert State Prison for its structural steel fabrication and erector business. In the state’s prison industrial program, private employers can use inmates for work so they can learn a skill to help them find jobs when they are released. They are paid minimum wage. Bulloch’s contract with the prison system also called for a $5,000-a-month payment to lease 19,000 square feet at the prison in Indian Springs.

Bulloch was making partial payments but fell behind in payments for the inmates' wages, the use of facilities and time spent by correctional officers to supervise the inmates.

He entered into an agreement to reimburse the state, and while he has made all the payments to reimburse the inmates for their work, he still owed the state more than $430,000 in January. Then, he stopped making monthly payments in July.

Alpine Steel was sued in district court, and a default judgment of $428,000 was imposed in September. State Controller Kim Wallin said earlier this week that the case has been turned over to a collection agency.

Margi Grein, the board’s executive officer, signed the surrender order today and notified Bulloch that he must reimburse the agency $772 to cover the cost of its investigation, which it has conducted since February, when the contractor's board placed Alpine Steel's license on probation for a year because it had failed to make the required payments, to ensure Alpine Steel was following probation orders.

In the probation order, the contractors board noted that Alpine Steel had several federal tax liens totaling about $680,000.

In an appearance before a legislative committee earlier this year, Bulloch said the recession hurt his business. He also said he had an agreement for work on the SkyVue project on the Strip, but the project never materialized.

The case sparked a change in rules governing inmate labor. Inmates can no longer be used to replace private workers on a job and businesses must be given notice to bid on prison labor.

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