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GRAND JURY INVESTIGATING DENVER AIRPORT

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A federal grand jury is investigating allegations of wrongdoing at Denver International Airport, U.S. Attorney Henry L. Solano confirmed.

Denver has repeatedly delayed opening the $3.7 billion airport because of problems with a high-tech baggage system, which chewed up or misdirected luggage during tests."Based on prior substantial public news reports, I will confirm there is an ongoing investigation concerning Denver International Airport," he said Thursday. "Other than that, I cannot comment about the focus or progress of the investigation."

Last week, The Associated Press reported that the Denver District Attorney's Office is investigating allegations of falsified tests, fraudulent contracting and fraudulent construction practices at the airport.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Phil Parrott confirmed the investigation after The AP reported phony tests and slipshod quality control apparently occurred with alarming frequency during construction of the airport's runways, and inspectors complained their reports about problems often went un-heed-ed.

Parrott said his investigators are focusing on airport buildings, where city money was used, and said federal investigators are looking into the runway complaints because federal money was used on those projects.

He said Bob Mydans of the U.S. Attorney's Office was conducting the grand jury investigation.

Mydans confirmed the investigation Thursday, but said he could not comment beyond Solano's statement.

Briggs Gamblin, spokesman for Denver Mayor Wellington Webb, said he was unaware of the federal grand jury investigation and could not comment.

Documents obtained by The AP showed an airport runway inspector complained that work done on his shift often was so substandard he recommended in reports that it shouldn't be paid for. The inspector eventually quit.

Another inspector accused the city of "gross negligence" in field operations and said he saw quality control inspectors "falsifying test results in the field," the documents showed.

Pete Stokowski, the city's resident engineer at the airport, said he fired one contractor for falsifying test results at the airport.

Stokowski said the problems were caught early and fixed, and did not contribute to current cracking problems on the new airport's runways.