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American Government Special Collections Reference Desk


The New York Times
April 16, 1914

Investigators Tell of Contract Evasions in Suffolk Trial.

RIVERHEAD, L. I., April 15.—The average depth of the Coram-Patchogue State road and the average width of the veneer on the roadbed was far short of that required in the contract, according to Joseph A. Curran, Superintendent of Maintenance of the State Highway Department, who testified to-day against the Suffolk Contracting Company, its officers and two former engineers for the State, who are on trial for grand larceny in connection with the construction of the highway.

Supt. Curran, who worked under John A. Hennessy, testified that he made an examination of the road last November, when he was accompanied on an inspection trip by Henry P. Morrison, a road engineer of thirty years' experience, who helped build the Croton Aqueduct, and Charles M. Hilton, county engineer of Rockland County.  They made fifty openings in the pavement, and found that its average depth was 4¼ inches, instead of the required 6 inches, and that the width of the road was 15 feet 3 inches instead of 16 feet, as called for in the contract.

Henry P. Morrison testified that he helped to make the investigation of the highway in November, and that rocks twice as large as a man's fist and some as large as a man's head were found substituted for gravel.  He said that "native gravel" apparently scraped from the side of the road had been used instead of Peekskill gravel specified in the contract.

A. R. Applegarth, who went over the highway with Curran and the other witnesses, testified that he was present when twenty-one openings were made in the surface of the road.  According to him the average depth was 3.54 inches, and the average width of the roadbed was 14.7 feet.  The gravel used was from 20 to 30 per cent. native sand.

When Franklin Overton qualified as an expert, he corroborated much of the testimony that preceded his and further said that the sand used in the construction of the road was worth not more than ten cents a cubic yard.  Where the contract called for 10,800 cubic yards of Peekskill gravel, he estimated that not more than 6,640 had been used.

District Attorney Greene offered eleven bags of road building material in evidence.  The prosecution's case was finished to-night and the defense will begin to-morrow.

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