Las Vegas Sun

August 22, 2019

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Lawmaker ‘furious’ over money owed under prison industry program

CARSON CITY — The chairman of a legislative committee said he’s “furious” that a Las Vegas contractor indicated he had a contract for work on a major Strip project when he did not and that he would have enough money to cover back pay owed to prison inmates for other jobs.

Assemblyman James Ohrenschall, D-Las Vegas, said he wants Randy Bulloch, president of Alpine Steel, to appear at a special Oct. 22 meeting of the Legislative Committee on Industrial Programs to explain.

Ohrenschall said Bulloch gave assurances that he had a steel fabrication contract for the SkyVue observation wheel that would allow him to make back payments of $78,000 owed for prison labor used on other projects.

But Natalie Mounier, a spokeswoman for the SkyVue project, said Wednesday that Bulloch submitted a bid for the work but no contract has been awarded.

“Alpine Steel does not have a contract for any steel or services with the SkyVue observation wheel,” she said.

Bulloch did not return telephone calls.

In the state’s prison industrial program, private employers can use inmates for work so they can learn a skill to help them find jobs when they are released. They are paid minimum wage.

Bulloch also owes the state $401,000 for use of facilities at the High Desert State Prison.

He made a payment of $40,000 this week and has promised to clear up the remaining back wages of $38,000 by Nov. 1.

Lawmakers asked prison officials to get a bond or guarantee to protect the state in recovering the $401,000.

Ohrenschall said he may ask prison officials to shut down a Bulloch operation at High Desert. “We’re at the end of our rope,” he said.

After the committee meeting Friday, Ohrenschall said he learned a federal tax lien for $668,543 had been filed with the Clark County Recorder against Alpine Steel for back payroll taxes.

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