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Counterallegations prompt Meridian case continuance

The financially troubled Meridian luxury condo property near the Strip continues to fork out money for a constant fire watch in one of its buildings, while the plumber who faces five misdemeanor charges for repairing the building’s fire line without a permit had his bench trial postponed until December.

The fire watch has been in place since late May. An attorney for Harry Sullard, the plumber, said Monday the misdemeanor case was continued because Sullard had recently submitted material to the police supporting the idea that the two ex-employees who had turned Sullard in to fire authorities last autumn for the Meridian job had embezzled while working at Sullard’s company, HK Plumbing.

Lawyer Cal Potter, representing Sullard on the misdemeanor, said Monday outside Justice Court that the purpose of the continuance is to allow Las Vegas police to review Sullard’s material about wrongdoing by “the people you support.”

Potter seemed to be alluding to Review-Journal stories in early summer of allegations by Mario Salinas and Eric Edwards. The two had claimed HK Plumbing did substandard work at the Meridian in autumn 2007, and that Sullard fired them after they pointed out the work was deficient.

“They vehemently deny the embezzlement,” Gus Flangas, the attorney for the two ex-employees, said Tuesday. Sullard is “trying to divert from the real issue. There was safety involved, and he (Sullard) was working beyond the scope” of his license.

After Edwards and Salinas went to the Review-Journal in the spring with their safety concerns, the Clark County Fire Department reopened the men’s closed complaint on the Meridian. The department’s renewed investigation found that HK’s work at the condo property in September 2007 qualified only as a temporary fix to the vital fire line, and needed to be redone by a plumber with the proper credential to work on fire lines — which Sullard also lacked. Until the new repair in May 2008, the building went approximately seven months with a compromised fire system.

Potter said Sullard’s “other attorneys” were working with Sullard on the embezzlement matter, but Potter would not name them. Henderson lawyer Richard Peel is representing Sullard in a civil lawsuit against Salinas and Edwards. But Peel did not return several phone calls.

The financially strapped Meridian homeowners association has been paying more than $10,000 a month for the mandatory fire watch, according to Sally FitzHenry, an officer of the homeowners association. The fire watch must remain until the association pays to flush the once-compromised fire line of any dirt that infiltrated during the HK repair. The flush and testing may cost as much as $500,000, FitzHenry said.

Sullard has not responded to multiple phone messages left at his business requesting an interview.

Contact reporter Joan Whitely at jwhitely@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0268.

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