New York Concrete executive tried to commit suicide after corruption conviction Prosecutors said company altered test results

By Jennifer Peltz

Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK (AP) § A concrete-testing laboratory president tried to kill himself after being convicted of doctoring results for such iconic New York City buildings as ground zero's centerpiece tower, according to court documents released last week.

Jurors were still deliberating on the most serious charge against Testwell Laboratories Inc. President V. Reddy Kancharla on Feb. 19 when his stunned lawyers told a judge he had slashed his wrist and taken three different kinds of sleeping pills, a previously sealed transcript shows.

"He's, right now, in the emergency room," lawyer Charles A. Stillman told a judge in an out-of-court discussion.

Kancharla has recovered, and he reported to court Thursday for a required meeting with probation officers while he awaits sentencing, defense lawyer Paul Shechtman said.

"He had some very dark days, but he now has pulled himself out of it and is committed to fighting this case" on appeal, Shechtman said.

Workers found the injured Kancharla in his Ossining, N.Y., office the morning of Feb. 19, Shechtman said.

The suicide attempt came two days after Kancharla heard the first in a series of guilty verdicts in the case against him, his company and a vice president. They ultimately were convicted Wednesday of enterprise corruption, New York's version of racketeering.

Kancharla wasn't in court to hear that verdict; his absence was explained only as illness. Manhattan state Supreme Court Justice Edward McLaughlin had issued a gag order to all the lawyers involved and told jurors Feb. 19 only that an "unexpected problem" had caused delays, the transcript shows. McLaughlin lifted the order Thursday.

The Manhattan District Attorney's office didn't immediately respond to an inquiry about the newly known developments.

Prosecutors said Testwell and the executives altered or simply made up concrete and steel test results for more than 100 projects in and around New York City, including such landmarks as the new Yankee Stadium.

Defense lawyers said the charges reflected contract disputes, errors and widespread industry practices § not an attempt to scam anyone.

The stadium, the ground zero Freedom Tower and at least 21 other buildings have been retested and declared safe, city buildings officials say. They are awaiting results on at least 67 more.

Kancharla faces a mandatory prison term of at least a year and up to 25 years at his sentencing, set for April 7.

Published: Mon, Mar 1, 2010