ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) — A big-time out-of-state contractor is accused of breaking state rules and racking up more than $1 million in fines, appears to be slithering through the system.
State licensing officials are having a hard time collecting the giant fine from the Chicago company and they blame the Attorney General's Office.
Wednesday KRQE News 13 learned the Attorney General's Office proposed settling the $1.4 Million fine for only several thousand-dollars.
"What I believe is the largest violation in NM contracted licensing has occurred, and the Attorney General appears to be dropping the ball," said James Giannelli a former contractor.
James Giannelli is the man who brought this to the state's attention.
He says Archer Western Construction bid and worked on a $14 Million project to build a new filtration system at a waste-water treatment plant in Albuquerque.
According to the state Construction Industries Commission, the company did the work without the proper license. A move that outraged the commission.
"If we're going to state that we're going to crackdown on unlicensed activity and protect our contractors here in our state, we need to stick firm to that and be consistent in our decisions," said Katherine Martinez, with the NM Construction and Industries Commission.
"They could have awarded that project to any one of the contractors that met the laws of New Mexico," added Giannelli.
He voiced his concerns to the commission Wednesday morning.
It's the same commission that slapped Archer Western with the big fine.
KRQE News 13 has learned the Attorney General's Office, acting as "administrative prosecutors" for the commission, instead negotiated a settlement for several thousand dollars.
The superintendent of the state's Regulation and Licensing Department isn't happy.
"The AG's office trying to negotiate this case for a very small percentage of that without going through the due process is unacceptable," said J. Dee Dennis, Jr. Superintendent of NM Regulation and Licensing
The construction industries commission rejected the drastically-reduced settlement.
This is critical to the state," said Martinez. "It protects the contractors. It protects the sub contractors that they employ, the goods and services, the money that's spent on the goods and services. It's a really big picture issue."
The construction industries commission is insisting for the Attorney General's Office to continue pursuing the $1.4 Million, and not settle for anything less.
Both the Attorney General's Office and Archer-Western did not returned our calls for comment when this story aired Wednesday evening.
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New Mexico is located in the southwestern region of the U.S. Inhabited by Native American populations for many centuries, New Mexico has also been part of Imperial Spain, part of Mexico, and a U.S. territory.