“It was good,” Mr. Newman, 49, said. “It was good.”
He was a respected figure in the Capital Region’s construction industry, a draftsman, a graphic artist and an architect on projects as small as renovations to a jeweler’s store and as large as a senior community. He lived with his wife and two sons in a custom-built home he designed in Troy, N.Y. He coached Little League, football and baseball.
But nearly all of it was built on a lie.
He was not an architect. He did not carry the required state license. The rubber stamp he used that read “Registered Architect, State of New York” was a fake.
The stamp, forged signatures, false paperwork — they were like the scaffolding of a building of his own design, one with no firm foundation.
The obvious question: Why? Why didn’t he get the license? Why would a successful man risk everything, finally winding up in handcuffs, the butt of a “Seinfeld” joke from the state’s attorney general?
“Those who wish to game the system and take advantage of New Yorkers should take note: no license, no work for you,” the attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman, said in a written statement.
There was no single and simple answer. Corners were cut, rules were bent. No one noticed. Life marched on: children, Little League, always looking for the next job. Old lies required new ones to keep them covered, more forgery and more deceit secretly coloring his life’s work.
“The board requested that this disciplinary action be referred to the New York Board of Architecture,” the minutes state.
In 2016, the matter was referred to the state attorney general’s office, which obtained indictments in three counties. Mr. Newman was arrested April 17.
Prosecutors named the case “Operation Vandelay Industries,” a reference to a joke on “Seinfeld” about the character George Costanza pretending to be close to a nonexistent job as a latex salesman with the nonexistent Vandelay Industries. The joke took off, with many publications writing about the arrest.
By then, Mr. Newman’s life had already changed. He was going through a divorce and no longer living in the home he built. He was in a new relationship and was expecting a child.
On June 14, he pleaded guilty to grand larceny, forgery and related charges, six counts in all, and was released pending his sentencing. His son was born days later.
Last Tuesday, he sat in the rear of the courtroom, awaiting sentencing. He said the first times he broke the rules were “careless, dumb mistakes,” without elaborating.
Why, I asked, had he never taken the test to become an architect?
He spoke of Little League, of being Coach Newman. “I’d come home at night and try to study,” he said. “You’re just exhausted.”