News and Press Releases

Contractor Pleads Guilty to Fraud, Filing False Tax Returns

June 5, 2013

PITTSBURGH, Pa. - A construction company executive pleaded guilty in federal court to an Information charging him with mail fraud and filing false tax returns, United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced today.

Robert E. Crawford, 54, of Pittsburgh, Pa., pleaded guilty to two counts before United States District Judge David S. Cercone.

The Information filed by the United States Attorney alleged that Crawford was the President and Chief Executive Officer of R.E. Crawford Construction, Inc., located in Springdale, Pa. The information also alleged that R.E. Crawford Construction, Inc. entered into two contracts with Simon Property Group, Inc., one in or around September of 2006 for the construction and redevelopment work on the Northgate Mall in Seattle, Washington, and one in or around November of 2007 for the construction and redevelopment work on the Laguna Hills Mall in Laguna Hills, California. According to the Information, Crawford fraudulently overstated the costs incurred on these contracts, causing Simon Property Group to over-pay Crawford's company for the work done on both of those projects. In addition, the Information states that Crawford paid approximately $766,000 to a vice president employed by Simon Property Group, who in turn used his authority and influence at Simon Property Group to select Crawford's company to be the general contractor for those jobs.

Crawford also pled guilty to charges of assisting in the preparation of false tax returns, and with filing false tax returns for the years 2006, 2007 and 2008.

Judge Cercone scheduled sentencing for Dec. 13, 2013, at 10 a.m. The law provides for a total sentence of 23 years in prison, a fine of $500,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Assistant United States Attorney Shaun E. Sweeney is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The Internal Revenue Service and the United States Postal Inspection Service conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Crawford.

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