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Jan 28, 2019 1:44 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Contractor Accused Of Falsifying Pyrrhus Concer House Bid In Southampton Village

The property in Southampton Village where the Pyrrhus Concer home once stood. GREG WEHNER
Jan 30, 2019 10:34 AM

A West Babylon contractor faces a felony criminal charge after being accused of falsifying information in a bid to restore the Pyrrhus Concer house in Southampton Village, according to the Suffolk County district attorney’s office.

William Proefriedt, 57, of West Babylon entered the lowest bid, $437,600, in May 2018, to reconstruct the historic house for the Village of Southampton.

Court documents show he also signed a sworn written statement that members of his work crew were certified to complete electrical, plumbing and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning work, as required by the plans. But, according to court documents, Mr. Proefriedt did not have properly licensed and certified plumbers or electricians to complete the project.

On November 13, Mr. Proefriedt surrendered to prosecutors from Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini’s office and was charged with first-degree offering a false instrument, a felony. He was arraigned in Suffolk County District Court on Thursday morning, January 24, and faces a maximum sentence of 16 months to four years in prison if convicted. He is due back in court on March 20.

Village officials said they did not seek charges against Mr. Proefriedt but instead chose not to do business with him after he failed to provide proof that he had certified electricians and plumbers to do the required work.

Court documents show that Suffolk County Police Detective Nicholas Aspromgos filed the complaint against Mr. Proefriedt. When asked to speak with Det. Aspromgos about what led to Mr. Proefriedt’s arrest, a public information officer with the Suffolk County Police Department said all questions needed to be directed to the DA’s office since Mr. Proefriedt had been indicted. Calls to the DA’s office seeking specifics were not immediately returned.

Mr. Proefriedt’s attorney, Ray Perini of Islandia-based Perini & Hoerger, disputed the charges, claiming that his client had plumbers and electricians who were licensed and able to complete the project, and that his client never misled village officials when he submitted the bid.

In fact, Mr. Perini, noting that his client pleaded not guilty, said his firm is in possession of the licenses of those workers, and he does not see the case going very far. “I fully expect this matter to be dismissed, or he will be fully acquitted,” Mr. Perini said on Thursday.

The state’s Wicks Law requires that municipalities contract out electric, plumbing and HVAC work separately if the cost of a project is more than $500,000. Mr. Proefriedt’s bid was under $500,000; therefore, he included in his single bid that his company would provide certified plumbers and electricians. All other bids included separate bids for electric, plumbing and HVAC work.

Southampton Village officials appropriated $500,000 for the Pyrrhus Concer house work. All bids came in well over the $500,000 appropriation—with the exception of Mr. Proefriedt’s bid of $437,600.

Now, plans to reconstruct the 16-foot-by-30-foot home are on hold, according to Southampton Village Administrator Stephen Funsch, and officials are looking at ways to modify the plans so that the bids come in at or below the $500,000 that is set aside for the project.

Mr. Concer was an African-American whaler in the 19th century and was part of a crew that saved stranded Japanese sailors at one time. He became one of the first Americans, and, quite possibly, the first person of color to visit Japan. Mr. Concer also operated a ferry service on Lake Agawam. He had been sold into slavery and later gained his freedom, making his home in Southampton.

His house was located on Pond Lane, on the northwestern side of Lake Agawam.

In 2013, David and Sylvia Hermer purchased the 0.82-acre property for $2.75 million. With the hope of building a new home, the couple applied to have the home demolished, and, after months of debate, the Board of Architectural Review and Historic Preservation denied the application.

Mr. and Ms. Hermer then filed a $10 million notice of claim, charging that their rights as property owners were being denied. Eventually, the homeowners and the village reached an agreement: The municipality was given permission to salvage artifacts and building materials, and the home was demolished. Later, the couple put the property back on the market.

Two months later, the Southampton Town Board agreed to purchase and preserve the vacant property for $4.3 million, using Community Preservation Fund revenues, and the village prepared to restore the historic house.

In 2016, a museum was planned for the property that included a visitor center, amphitheater, walkways and a path of waterfalls and ponds, but the project became pricey and village officials backed away from the deal. Village officials now plan to rebuild the house using the majority of the original frame that was salvaged from the property, but there are no immediate plans for its use.

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David and Sylvia made a tidy profit and got to pull the house down into the bargain.What is left to restore?May I suggest placing a three dimensional photo of the house next to the plaque,
By watchdog1 (543), Southampton on Jan 28, 19 8:48 PM
1 member liked this comment
Erect a monument to greed in the spot.
By SlimeAlive (1181), Southampton on Jan 29, 19 7:47 AM
2 members liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By themarlinspike (542), southampton on Jan 29, 19 8:27 AM
1 member liked this comment
Zach knows everything about historical buildings. Just ask him.
By Draggerman (955), Southampton on Jan 29, 19 6:30 PM
1 member liked this comment
I'm glad at least Southampton Village, one of the wealthiest communities in the

country, supports local contractors who are licensed, insured, have strong local

references, etc...instead of hiring dirtbag builders from Up-Island
By aging hipster (201), Southampton on Jan 29, 19 9:58 AM
4 members liked this comment
Another UTI shady contractor yaaaaawn
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Jan 29, 19 4:37 PM
1 member liked this comment
Hmmm. Google this dirtbag...

Why was he allowed to submit a bid?
By Draggerman (955), Southampton on Jan 29, 19 6:33 PM
So, driving past the old barbers shop on North Sea Road, the one that’s going to be a museum, I saw “William G Prophy General Contracting” on a truck. Quick google search and it seems to be the same guy... The company’s sole proprietor is William Proefriedt. Isn’t this a village job as well?

SMFH.
By Draggerman (955), Southampton on Jan 30, 19 9:52 AM
The negative news stories appear to be about a man in his late 20s, whereas this William Proefriedt is 57 years old.
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8265), HAMPTON BAYS on Jan 30, 19 10:37 AM
There’s labor court cases
By Draggerman (955), Southampton on Jan 30, 19 5:06 PM
Thanks for the detail!

I was able to find the case: Stephen Flanagan/Local 66 v. William G. Prophy LLC.

The issue at hand is underpayments to the appropriate union pension/benefit funds and it appears to be ongoing, although this was an interesting part of a recent motion to withdraw as defendant's attorney:

"Defendants' unwarranted and unfounded mistrust of this Firm's representation demonstrates the destruction of our attorney client relationship, and Defendants have ...more
Jan 30, 19 8:25 PM appended by Fore1gnBornHBgrown
As an aside, the Plaintiffs allege non-payment in the amount of a little over $94K
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8265), HAMPTON BAYS on Jan 30, 19 8:25 PM
The village should support local contractors Keep the money out here. Let it circulate locally.
By Local247 (39), Southampton on Jan 30, 19 12:41 PM
1 member liked this comment
The lowest bidder is not the best bidder. Hire local only. We live here.. we spend here
By Win sky (58), Southampton on Jan 30, 19 2:00 PM
2 members liked this comment
Southampton Village is really filled with genius elected officials
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Jan 30, 19 2:06 PM
Hire local-Only! Those lowest bidders from up island are a prescription for scams and disaster, as the article describes. How can anyone expect the same degree of professional work and materials from the lowest bidder? Here is how they do it: Cut corners in construction materials and inexperienced day laborers. That's how they get to submit a low-ball bid. Or the contractor just makes stuff up and hopes they can pull it off, as seen here.
By elliot (254), sag harbor on Feb 2, 19 1:43 PM
1 member liked this comment
I really could say a Whole Lot TRUST me but I'll just say this ...this entire ordeal was Borderline or Over the line criminal and ALL parties involved YOU know it!!!!! I'll just let KARMA handle it....
By MsB (17), Southampton on Feb 7, 19 8:28 AM
I doubt anyone is surprised. Or they shouldn't be. The town and village constantly higher the lowest bidder, UTI person and the story repeats over and over. Sometimes they get caught out, sometimes they get away with it. Usually it ends up costing more than the original bid anyway.

This house should never have been touched.
By bb (922), Hampton Bays on Feb 9, 19 10:58 AM