Target Says It Was Snookered

     HOUSTON (CN) - A Texas businessman who paid bribes to get contracts to pave Target parking lots defrauded the company by billing it for 44 million pounds of asphalt he never even bought, Target claims in court.
     Target sued James Stinson, owner of Asphalt Maintenance of Alvin, Texas, in Harris County Court. Stinson himself is the only defendant.
     The complaint stems from parking lot paving work Asphalt Maintenance did at 19 Target stores in the South and Southeast in 2010 and 2011.
     Target claims it learned in 2012 that it "may have been defrauded by various paving companies, including AMI."
     Target says its investigation traced the scheme back to LCH Pavement Consultants, the company it hired to manage its parking lot projects.
     "LCH inspected Target store parking lots and advised Target as to which parking lots were most in need of repair. LCH recommended needed repairs and maintenance, identified the quantities and types of repairs to be performed, and conducted competitive bidding for such repairs," the complaint states.
     "After Target entered into contracts with the paving contractors (including AMI), LCH functioned as Target's construction manager: overseeing performance of the work and certifying that the work has been completed and satisfactorily performed by the paving contractors." (Parentheses in complaint.)
     Target claims Stinson bribed LCH's owners to obtain the parking lot paving contracts for Asphalt Maintenance.
     Because LCH did not award the contracts to the lowest bidder, Target says, it "paid more for the AMI paving projects than it would have paid through a competitive bidding process untainted by bribery."
     But the fraud did not stop there, Target says.
     "On all or most of the paving projects that AMI executed for Target in 2010 and 2011, Stinson defrauded Target by personally arranging for AMI and its subcontractors to perform different, cheaper, and generally much smaller scopes of work than those which were called for in AMI's contracts with Target, and which AMI had agreed to perform," the complaint states.
     "Further compounding this fraud, Stinson then caused AMI to fraudulently bill Target for the full scopes of the paving work that was supposed to have been performed, rather than the lesser work actually performed."
     Target claims Stinson corrupted its construction manager, LCH, in other ways besides the bribes.
     It claims that all the projects were supposed to be supervised by LCH managers, but Stinson had his workers pose as the managers and falsify documents that LCH then passed on to Target.
     "This supplying of fake project managers by Stinson allowed LCH to invoice Target and receive payment from Target for project supervisory work that LCH did not, in fact, perform," according to the complaint.
     Target seeks punitive damages for fraud, tortious interference, theft, and aiding and abetting. It claims that its damages are "in the millions."
     It is represented by Craig Kyle Hemphill of Houston, and James Hartnett of Faegre Baker Daniels in Minneapolis.
     Stinson was not available for comment Sunday.