Las Vegas Sun

August 28, 2014

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Judgment entered against Las Vegas contractor in prison debt

A summary judgment has been entered against a Las Vegas steel firm for $428,208 owed the state prison system for its use of inmate laborers in private construction projects.

Alpine Steel LLC defaulted on its agreement to reimburse the Department of Corrections for the use of facilities at the Southern Desert Correctional Center and time spent by correctional officers in supervising the inmates.

Alpine President Randy Bulloch could not be reached for comment. The judgment, in the district court of Carson City Sept. 5, also imposes a 1.5 percent interest per month.

Deputy Attorney General Carrie Parker said there was an agreement in January that Alpine owed $438,945, and partial payments were made until July when the $5,000 payment was not made.

Bulloch did make a $40,000 payment last year owed the inmates for their work. He told a legislative committee in September 2012 that he had a contract for fabrication work on the 500-foot SkyVue observation wheel as well as the retail space below the wheel which was east of the Mandalay Bay.

Assemblyman James Ohrenschall, D-Las Vegas, was chairman at the time of the Legislative Interim Committee on Industrial Programs and he said today that Bulloch gave assurances the debt would be paid but the state “has been left holding the bag.”

“I’m outraged,” said Ohrenschall. “I hope the taxpayers will be made whole.” He said there’s been no progress on the Ferris wheel project for months.

Prison officials said Alpine Steel suffered from the recession and did $3.5 million in business in 2010 and $2.8 million in 2011.

The controversy resulted in the state tightening its policies in awarding contracts to use prison labor. The prison system must determine if the prison laborers will replace workers in private industry.

And notice must be given to other companies about pending contracts to use prison labor.

The legislative committee on industrial programs has scheduled a meeting for Sept. 20, and one of the topics will be the Alpine Steel case.

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