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Two Former Managers for Big Dig Contractor Sentenced

May 26, 2010

Boston, Mass... Two former managers of Aggregate Industries Inc., the largest concrete supplier on the Big Dig project, were sentenced late yesterday in U.S. District Court in Boston. Despite prosecutors’ recommendation of lengthy terms of imprisonment, the Honorable Richard G. Stearns sentenced both men to three years’ probation.

United States Attorney Carmen Ortiz; Theodore L. Doherty III, Special Agent in Charge of the New England Regional Office of the United States Department of Transportation, Office of Inspector General; Warren T. Bamford, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation - Boston Field Division; and Colonel Marian McGovern, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police announced that ROBERT PROSPERI, 64 of Lynnfield, Mass. and GREGORY A. STEVENSON, 53 of Furlong, PA, were sentenced to three years probation with 6 months of electronic home monitoring. The defendants were convicted, following a 3-week jury trial on August 3, 2009, of 135 felony counts, including Conspiracy to Commit Highway Project Fraud and Mail Fraud; Conspiracy to Defraud the Government with Respect to Claims; and Making False Statements in Connection with Highway Projects and Mail Fraud.

PROSPERI, the former General Manager, and STEVENSON, the former Operations Manager of Aggregate’s Ready Mix Concrete Division, had been found guilty of highway project fraud and related offenses for their participation in a scheme to provide concrete to Big Dig projects that did not meet contract specifications, and to conceal the true nature of the concrete through false documentation. Between 1996 and 2005, Aggregate (under the defendants’ direction) delivered approximately 5,000 truckloads of non-specification concrete to the Big Dig. Each truckload comprised approximately ten yards of concrete. This concrete included recycled concrete that was over ninety-minutes old and had not been used by other customers, concrete that had been adulterated with the addition of excess water, and concrete that was not batched pursuant to Big Dig project specifications.

The leftover loads of mixed concrete were dubbed “10-9 loads” by the defendants, and did not meet Big Dig project specifications. The defendants concealed this fraud by falsifying concrete batch slips delivered to Big Dig inspectors and/or representatives of the general contractors at the various construction sites. These false batch reports were relied upon by the Government to determine the quality and amount of concrete placed by the general contractors on the project.

Big Dig project specifications required that concrete must be placed or poured within ninety minutes of batching. In most instances involving these “10-9 loads,” the concrete had exceeded the ninety minute time limit. In order to conceal the true age of the concrete, the defendants directed truck drivers and other Aggregate employees to add water, as well as other ingredients, to the “10-9 loads” to make those loads appear to be freshly batched. Big Dig project specifications also prohibited the addition of water to concrete after the concrete had been batched except under tightly controlled circumstances. The defendants also falsified batch reports to indicate the presence of fly ash when in fact, there was none in the load because Aggregate Industries ran short of fly ash. Fly ash is an essential ingredient in concrete that makes the it more durable and prevents the infiltration of water.

The defendants faced maximum penalties of 20 years’ incarceration on each of the mail fraud counts, 10 years’ incarceration on the conspiracy to make false claims against the United States, and 5 years’ incarceration on the conspiracy to commit highway project fraud and mail fraud count, as well as on each highway project fraud count. Each count also carried a maximum fine of $250,000 fine. Pursuant to the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines, which the sentencing court is required to consider, the defendants’ sentencing range was 87 to 108 months incarceration based on their leadership roles within Aggregate and the cost of the adulterated concrete they sold to the CA/T.

In a downward departure, the District Court sentenced PROSPERI to 3 years of probation on each count to run concurrently, 6 months of electronic home monitoring and 1,000 hours of community Service. In addition, the Court ordered payment of a $15,000 fine and a $13,500 special assessment representing $100 for each count of conviction. STEVENSON received the same sentence, but with a fine of $5,000.

“The Government is disappointed with the sentences in this case, and while it respects the Court in this matter, the Government does not believe the sentences reflect the seriousness of the offense or serve as a deterrent to others who might engage in similar conduct on public works projects in our Commonwealth,” stated United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz.

The case was investigated by the United State Department of Transportation, Office of Inspector General, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Massachusetts State Police Assigned to the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office . It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Fred M. Wyshak, Jr., Anthony E. Fuller and Jeffrey M. Cohen of Ortiz’s Public Corruption Unit.

 

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