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that is clearly a crime

the inquiry centers on allegations by the district's inspector general that companies owned by art gastelum and nizar katbi submitted fraudulent billings for construction work at mission college in sylmar, deputy dist. atty. max huntsman said wednesday.
the district alleges that gastelum's firm approved a payment to katbi's company for work it had not performed.
"if it is true they submitted false claims in order to be paid for work that wasn't done, that is clearly a crime," huntsman said.
gastelum, a former los angeles city hall lobbyist and prominent political fundraiser, denied any misconduct. "i look forward to cooperating with their investigation," he said in a phone interview.
katbi was unaware of the inquiry and could not comment, a spokeswoman said.
citing the billing questions and other alleged irregularities, the college district is seeking to terminate a construction management contract with gastelum's company, gateway science and engineering of pasadena, and to sever ties to katbi's construction firm, ftr international of irvine.
miguel santiago, president of the college board, said the district will work with prosecutors.
voters approved funding for a massive rebuilding campaign across the community college district's nine aging campuses in three bond measures beginning in 2001. the times, in a six-part series published earlier this year, reported that tens of millions of construction dollars had been squandered on frivolous spending, shoddy workmanship and poor planning.
the program is nearing the halfway mark, with 149 projects completed, including science labs, computer centers and classroom buildings, the district reported this fall. nearly $3 billion remains in the building fund, and 184 more projects are scheduled over the next four years.

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