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How LMD Inc. grew into a major contractor

Wednesday, October 25, 2000

By Mike Bucsko, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

The relationship between LMD Inc. and the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority dates back a decade to when it was a subcontractor to a New Jersey firm that became the subject of another federal investigation.

The PWSA's largest private contractor, Spiniello Construction Inc. of New Jersey, was the subject of a federal investigation in 1995 after questions were raised about its PWSA contracts. That investigation has continued, though activity in the case in the past few years has been minimal.

No charges have been filed.

Spiniello Construction was bought out in a bankruptcy proceeding two years ago and renamed Spiniello Companies Inc.

LMD Inc. recently attracted the attention of federal agents, who are examining its relationship with the PWSA.

LMD was formed in May 1986 under the direction of Charles A. DiNardo, a vice president with Spiniello Construction Inc. Sharon Antonucci of Hampton was its chief executive officer.

The company took its name from the initials of DiNardo's daughter, Lisa Maria DiNardo, though she apparently has not been involved in the company. Lisa DiNardo, who is now married to a federal prosecutor in Pittsburgh, declined last week to discuss the company.

Charles DiNardo, 64, of Marshall, a regional manager for the Spiniello Companies, has not responded to several requests for comment.

LMD did not fulfill its original intention as a company formed to purchase a Lawrenceville building -- that was done five years later by a DiNardo company called DiNardo Ltd. Instead, LMD became certified as a woman-owned business and was a designated minority subcontractor to meet set-aside requirements on major public construction projects obtained by Spiniello Construction.

For years, Spiniello Construction, LMD and SLA Inc., a company taken from Sharon Antonucci's initials, were located in the same Lawrenceville building at 100 49th St.

The Spiniello Companies are now located a block away on 50th Street. LMD has maintained a mailing address at a post office box in Hampton, but last year the company moved to Seventh Avenue in Homestead.

From humble circumstances 20 years ago, Antonucci has risen with the success of her company.

In 1980, Antonucci was on welfare trying to support her two young daughters and in the midst of a divorce from an Allegheny County maintenance worker. By 1989, she bought a home in Hampton for $75,500.

LMD's business, according to PWSA documents, was to perform excavation, backfill and site preparation for the many projects for which it was listed by Spiniello Construction as a women-owned business.

A provision that the contractor must be able to do excavation work, added at the last minute to specifications in a 1995 PWSA project, prompted an internal investigation and the initial federal inquiry of Spiniello.

City Councilman Gene Ricciardi, a close friend of DiNardo's, requested the provision be put in the specifications the day before they were to be made public. Ricciardi, unable to reach Glenn Cannon, the PWSA executive director at the time, secured approval to change the specifications from Deputy Mayor Sal Sirabella, another DiNardo friend.

Spiniello won the contract and used LMD as a subcontractor.

Ricciardi, a PWSA board member since 1992, would not discuss the LMD investigation, citing a board decision to restrict comment to the agency's solicitor and board president. Of the earlier Spiniello inquiry, Ricciardi said subsequent internal investigations by the PWSA and the city showed nothing improper occurred in the bid process.

General contractors are required to list minority and women-owned businesses they plan to use on jobs and the percentage of work the companies will do. In some instances, LMD ended up with much more money on Spiniello jobs than was originally listed.

For example, in the $1.8 million 1995 project to reline sewers for which the specifications were changed, Spiniello in its contract said LMD would receive $184,000. The company instead was listed as receiving $453,624 in the final billing.

In a 1992 project in which Spiniello Construction contracted to replace a waterline along Braddock Avenue, LMD was originally set to receive $250,000. The company instead received $860,000.

But the Spiniello spigot was apparently shut off for LMD about three years ago. Though Spiniello continued to list LMD as a women-owned business in its contract and bid documents for four projects, PWSA records show LMD did not participate in the jobs and was not paid.

However, LMD remained in the public work arena.

In mid-1994, LMD was awarded a contract by the city to clean catch basins to supplement the work done by public works employees. At that time, sewer cleaning was part of the city Public Works Department.

From 1994 until the catch basin contract was transferred to PWSA supervision in 1998, LMD received $3.1 million from the City of Pittsburgh for the catch basin contracts. In addition, the company was paid $1.17 million in 1997 and 1998 for sewer cleaning.

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