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Architect booted off register after ‘dishonestly’ spending client’s construction money

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An Oxfordshire architect has been removed from the ARB register after spending his client’s construction money on staff wages

Anthony Pettorino, co-owner of Witney-based AJP Architects, was booted off the professional register for a minimum of two years by the Architects Registration Board’s conduct committee after it found him guilty of a catalogue of failures.

The problems relate to a residential renovation job carried out by Pettorino under his previous company, Pettorino Design.

Pettorino, who was also a student mentor at Oxford Brookes’ architecture school, was acting as architect and construction manager for the job and was responsible for spending the client’s money on the procurement of construction materials and labour.

However, with his company facing liquidation, he decided to ‘dishonestly’ spend the money on paying his own staff, according to the ARB.

He also failed to tell his client that the contractor he had recommended – and who suffered delays on the project – was already working on a job at his own home.

After Pettorino Design went under, the client also discovered that it had never had proper insurance cover.

The work was due to take 12-14 weeks but was still not complete after three and a half years, the ARB heard. The client also still has outstanding claims for money which they have lost.

In addition to not declaring a conflict of interest, spending his client’s money and not having proper insurance cover, Pettorino was also found guilty of:

  • Not entering into a proper, written contractual agreement
  • Not providing effective service
  • Not adequately communicating with his client
  • Not managing his own business appropriately, or reporting the liquidation of his company to the ARB
  • Not maintaining an adequate record of costs

In a plea for leniency, Pettorino told the ARB he would never act as construction manager again and that his income as an architect maintains his family.

He also said he worked hard for the architectural community – including by volunteering at Oxford Brookes.

But the ARB said the breadth of his failings, the extent of dishonesty and the risk of Pettorino being ‘seriously dishonest’ again meant he would receive the most drastic sentence available to the ARB.

AJP Architects’ website says the practice works on local housing schemes and has designed a new library and sixth form centre extension for Headington School in Oxford.

According to his LinkedIn profile, Pettorino used to work for American engineering giant Jacobs.

Pettorino has not responded to a request for comment but a spokesperson for Oxford Brookes University said: ‘Following the ARB’s decision, our students will no longer be mentored by Pettorino as part of the RIBA Student Mentoring Scheme.’

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Readers' comments (2)

  • Stealing his client's money does not seem to be included in the 'catalogue of charges'.
    Nor are the amounts mentioned.
    Anthony Pettorino should be dealt with by the criminal court.

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  • 'Booted off for 2 years'. Utter disgrace to the profession. Removal from the Register should be permanent for theft of this type. Perhaps a criminal record will prevent re-registration.

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