Consultant for the Florida Department of Transportation Charged with Accepting a Bribe
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Michael B. Steinbach, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, Jose A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), and Marlies T. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of Inspector General, announce the filing of an Information charging defendant Ron Capobianco, Jr., 40, of Pompano Beach, FL, with committing bribery in connection with programs receiving federal funds, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 666.
According to the Information, Capobianco, Jr. worked as a construction engineering and inspection consultant at Metric Engineering, Inc., (Metric), which specialized in the transportation industry. The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) contracted with Metric to provide many services, including designing, inspecting, and troubleshooting the construction of roads, signs, and traffic signals. Capobianco, Jr. was assigned as the FDOT District 4 Signalization and Lighting Liaison. As such, he acted as FDOT’s project manager for many signalization and lighting projects. Capobianco, Jr. had a team of employees that assisted him in supervising and inspecting contractors performing FDOT work. Because of his position and expertise, Capobianco, Jr. was consulted as an FDOT expert on certain aspects of signalization and lighting construction, including the use of video detection cameras for traffic signalization and control.
According to the Information, around 2009, FDOT began a road construction project along Highway 1 in the Florida Keys (the Marathon Key project), which was designed to improve traffic flow.
The Information alleges that Capobianco Jr. agreed to accept a bribe from a subcontractor working on this project. More specifically, the Information alleges that around May 2009, an agent of the subcontractor offered to pay Capobianco, Jr. $5,000 if the subcontractor could receive at least $25,000 for the installation of the video detection equipment. Capobianco, Jr. agreed to the subcontractor’s $25,000 estimate for the installation of the video detection devices, thus enabling the subcontractor to make a significant profit. The subcontractor’s estimate was approved and subsequently paid by the State of Florida after the installation of the video detection equipment. In or about May 2009, Capobianco, Jr. met with an agent of the subcontractor in Plantation, Florida and was paid $4,000 in cash for his assistance to the subcontractor on the Marathon Key project.
U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer stated, “Corruption in the procurement process is unacceptable, especially when it affects programs receiving federal funds. It is crucial that businesses compete on a level playing field, without improper outside influences or the payment or receipt of bribes. The U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue to prosecute those who steal from programs receiving federal funds.”
“This investigation reveals how business is not to be conducted in the United States. The FBI is committed to investigating not just corrupt acts, but the individuals who are behind them,” said Michael B. Steinbach, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Miami Division. “We encourage anyone who may have information about corruption to come forward and report it. That information is critical to our work.”
“Individuals in positions of public trust are expected to work in an ethical manner,” said Jose A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI). “Accepting a bribe corrupts the system, and IRS Criminal Investigation is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to enforce the law and hold individuals accountable who engage in this type of fraud.”
“The charges filed today are an example to all who would misuse their positions as caretakers of the public trust,” said Marlies T. Gonzalez, Regional Special Agent in Charge, U.S. DOT OIG. “We will continue to vigorously investigate and work with our law enforcement and prosecutorial colleagues to see that those who violate the public trust are punished to the fullest extent of the law.”
Defendant Capobianco, Jr. made his initial appearance in federal court this morning before U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Seltzer.
If convicted of the charges in the Information, defendant Capobianco, Jr. faces a statutory maximum term of imprisonment of up to 10 years.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI, IRS-CI, and the U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of Inspector General, in connection with the investigation of this matter. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jeffrey N. Kaplan.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.