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A.G. Schneiderman charges man with fraud, says he faked architecture license

CAPITAL REGION (WRGB) -- Attorney General Eric Schneiderman unsealed three indictments Thursday charging a man with larceny, forgery, fraud, and unlicensed practice of architecture.

Schneiderman said his investigation of Paul J. Newman, President of Cohesion Studios, Inc., found he had drafted architectural renderings for more than 100 properties in Albany, Rensselaer, and Saratoga Counties.

Over the course of seven years, Newman allegedly submitted these architectural renderings, as well as foundation inspections, field reports, energy compliance certificates, and engineer letters, to various towns and cities, falsely certifying on the documents that he was a registered and licensed architect and affixing a forged New York State Registered Architect Stamp or Professional Engineer Stamp.

According to statements at Newman's arraignment, Newman, as Cohesion's sole employee, was contracted to create architectural renderings and provide additional services for the following:

The Pastures Project, Town of North Greenbush, Rensselaer County -- Between 2010 and 2015, Newman was hired as the architect for the development of more than 70 townhouses, receiving in excess of $50,000 for his services.

The Livingston Project, City and County of Albany -- Between 2012 and 2014, Newman was hired as the architect for the development of a multi-story senior living community, receiving in excess of $40,000.

The Lofts Project, Town of Malta, Saratoga County -- Between 2014 and 2016, Newman was the Project Architect for the construction of a 214-unit multifamily apartment community, receiving in excess of $35,000.

The Vistas Project, Town of Clifton Park, Saratoga County -- Between 2011 and 2014, Newman was hired as the architect for the development of more than 25 townhouses, receiving in excess of $35,000.

The Hannoush Jewelers Project, Town of Colonie, Albany County -- Between 2011 and 2012, Newman was hired as the architect on a renovation project for a jewelry store, receiving in excess of $20,000.

The Ballston Senior Living Project, Town of Ballston, Saratoga County -- Between 2012 and 2013, Newman was hired as the architect for the development of a multi-story senior living community, receiving in excess of $8,000.

Prosecutors say Newman took the license number of a registered architect he found online, then created a fictitious Registered Architect Stamp using that number and his own name, and used that to stamp fraudulent inspection letters. He also allegedly took the Professional Engineer Stamp of a licensed engineer he worked with and fraudulently used that stamp, with a forged signature, on more than 1,000 pages of plans for the above projects. He is also alleged to have used fraudulent stamps and the title of "architect" on energy compliance certificates, foundation inspections, field reports, and AIA certificates.

In Saratoga County, Newman is charged with one count of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony; thirteen counts of Forgery in the Second Degree, a class D Felony; one count of Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, a class E felony; three counts of Unauthorized Practice of a Profession, a class E felony; and thirteen counts of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree, a class E felony. Newman, 49, was arraigned on April 17, 2017 in Saratoga County Court before the Honorable James A. Murphy, III. The defendant was remanded on the 31-count indictment.

In Rensselaer County, Newman is charged with one count of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a class C felony; nine counts of Forgery in the Second Degree, a class D Felony; one count of Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, a class E felony; one count of Unauthorized Practice of a Profession, a class E felony; and nine counts of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree, a class E felony. Newman, was also arraigned on April 17, 2017 in Rensselaer County Court before the Honorable Debra J. Young. The defendant was remanded on this 21-count indictment, pending a written bail energy compliance certificates, foundation inspections, field reports, and AIA certificates.

In Albany County, Newman is charged with two counts of Forgery in the Second Degree, a class D Felony; one count of Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, a class E felony; one count of Unauthorized Practice of a Profession, a class E felony; and two counts of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree, a class E felony. Newman was arraigned on April 19, 2017, in Albany County Court before the Honorable William A. Carter. The defendant was remanded on this six-count indictment, pending a written bail application.

If convicted of the highest count charged, Newman faces up to 5 to 15 years in prison.

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