State has no records of Berg's firm
R. JONATHAN TULEYA , Staff Writer 05/14/2004
Prometheus Methods Tower Services Inc., the business that cost Nick Berg his life in Iraq, has no records with the Pennsylvania Department of State.
The company that specialized in building communications towers never registered with the Pennsylvania Corporation Bureau, said Brian McDonald, spokesman for the state department.
McDonald conducted a search of the bureau's online list of registered businesses, but found no matches.
The same search done by a Daily Local News reporter produced the same results -- several businesses contained the word "Prometheus" in their names. Only one is located in West Chester, and it is not related to Berg's business.
Companies are not legally required to register with the state, but McDonald explained it is usually the first step an owner takes.
"You'd be very foolish not to register your business with the department," he said. "It is nearly impossible to exist without doing it."
Registering allows an owner to set up his business's tax structure. It also establishes how the business is run, for example, whether or not it is for-profit or nonprofit.
"It is basically the infrastructure by which businesses are set up in the commonwealth," McDonald said.
McDonald added it is possible the business could be listed in the bureau's records under a different name.
Searching the statewide yellow pages online found two company names containing the word "Prometheus" in Philadelphia. One is an Internet consulting business.
An employee at the second one, which is called Prometheus Radio Project, said it was not affiliated with the business owned by the local man slain in Iraq by members of al-Qaida.
Officials at the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue and the Internal Revenue Service said state and federal laws prohibited their agencies from providing any records they had of Prometheus Methods Tower Services -- even whether the company had ever filed a return.
"Any information that we get or is contained on a tax return I can't release," said Steve Kniley, press secretary for the state revenue department. "It is considered confidential under tax law."
Tax records become public information only if a lien is filed against a business. According to Kniley, there are no liens against Berg's company.
Bill Cressman, spokesman at the IRS's Philadelphia office, said the only companies with public tax records are nonprofit corporations.
At least one person claims he can confirm Prometheus' existence.
Jay Shur, who works at the radio station WCHE 1520 AM in West Chester, said on Wednesday he was in the process of hiring Berg to build a communications tower for the station when news of his death came out.
The station was awaiting approval of plans from both the borough and an environmental agency before construction could begin, according to Shur.
"There's a lot of paperwork to go through, and the area we were looking at was a marsh- land so we had to get clearance," he said."When I do get the OK, I'll have to look for another contractor."
Michael Berg briefly spoke about Prometheus during a press conference Thursday morning outside his home.
"My son was not over there to make money," Michael Berg said. "My son's business, which was very profitable before he went to Iraq ..I will make good on anything the company owes anybody, but it's pretty much going to be defunct."
It is unclear how many employees Prometheus had. Michael Berg spoke of a "foreman" during the press conference. However, Nick Berg traveled to Iraq alone.
Staff Writer Jill Nawrocki contributed to this article.