Former CEO of Canadian Hazardous Waste Treatment Company Sentenced to Serve 63 Months in Prison for Role in Kickback and Fraud Schemes Against the United States
The former chief executive at Bennett Environmental Inc., a Canada-based company that treats and disposes of contaminated soil, was sentenced today to serve 63 months in prison in connection with the payment of kickbacks to obtain subcontracts at a New Jersey Superfund site overseen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of Justice announced today.
John Bennett, of Vancouver, British Columbia, was also sentenced to pay a $12,500 criminal fine and $3,808,065 in restitution in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey in Newark by Judge Susan D. Wigenton. Bennett was charged with these crimes in August 2009 and was extradited from Canada to the United States in November 2014 to face trial. After a three-week jury trial that ended on March 16, 2016, Bennett was convicted of committing major fraud against the United States and conspiring to pay more than $1.3 million in kickbacks and to defraud the United States at the Federal Creosote Superfund site in Manville, New Jersey.
“Contractors cannot make payoffs to obtain government contracts,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Renata Hesse for the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division. “Today’s sentencing reaffirms the division’s dedication to prosecuting executives whose greed and illegal ploys undercut competition and defraud the United States.”
According to court documents, between 2001 and 2004 Bennett conspired with others at Bennett Environmental to pay kickbacks, that included money wired to a co-conspirator’s shell company, lavish trips and entertainment expenses and personal gifts, to the project manager at Federal Creosote in an effort to guarantee the award of soil treatment contracts to his company. As a result of the payment of these kickbacks, Bennett Environmental was fraudulently awarded tens of millions of dollars in soil treatment and disposal contracts at Federal Creosote, and the company won contracts at higher prices than it otherwise would have bid, causing harm to the EPA.
The investigation at Federal Creosote has resulted in the conviction of ten individuals and three companies of charges including major fraud against the United States, tax fraud, money laundering and obstruction of justice. Criminal fines and restitution of more than $6 million also have been imposed and seven of the individuals have been sentenced to serve prison sentences ranging from 5 months to 14 years.
Anyone with information concerning bid rigging, kickbacks, tax offenses or fraud relating to subcontracts awarded at Federal Creosote or Diamond Alkali Superfund sites should contact the Antitrust Division’s New York Office at 212-335-8000 or visit https://www.justice.gov/atr/contact/newcase.htm.