A former executive of Contech Engineered Solutions LLC was convicted today in New Bern, North Carolina, for his participation in bid-rigging and fraud schemes targeting the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT).
Following a week-long trial in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, a jury convicted Brent Brewbaker, a former Contech executive, for participating in conspiracies to rig bids and submit false certifications of non-collusion for more than 300 aluminum structure projects funded by the state of North Carolina between 2009 and 2018. Evidence showed that Brewbaker instructed a co-conspirator to submit non-competitive bids to NCDOT and to hide his bid rigging and fraud by varying the amount of inflated bids submitted. He also made clear to a co-conspirator that he would hide illegal conduct by deleting text messages he received about the conspiracy.
“Today’s verdict reinforces the division’s commitment to hold accountable executives who target state and local governments with their bid-rigging and fraud schemes,” said Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division. “With massive investments in infrastructure projects beginning soon, companies that manage those projects must know that the Justice Department and its Procurement Collusion Strike Force partners will have their eyes out for cheaters and schemers.”
“Activities related to collusion, bid rigging and fraud do not promote an environment conducive to open competition, which harms the consumer,” said Executive Special Agent in Charge Ken Cleevely of the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) Office of Inspector General. “Along with the Department of Justice and our federal law enforcement partners, the USPS Office of Inspector General will aggressively investigate those who would engage in this type of harmful conduct.”
“For nearly a decade Brent Brewbaker engaged in a scheme that compromised taxpayers’ investments in transportation projects in the State of North Carolina for commercial gain,” said Special Agent-in-Charge Craig Miles of the U.S. Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General, Mid-Atlantic Region. “Today’s verdict underscores our resolve to continue working with our prosecutorial and law enforcement partners toward protecting the Federally-funded infrastructure projects from fraud, waste and abuse.”
Brewbaker was convicted of conspiring to rig bids, conspiring to commit fraud, three counts of mail fraud and one count of wire fraud. He is scheduled to be sentenced on April 12. He faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison for conspiring to rig bids and 20 years in prison for each of the other counts.
Contech previously pleaded guilty to one count of bid rigging under Section One of the Sherman Antitrust Act and one count of conspiring to commit mail and wire fraud. Contech agreed to pay a criminal fine of $7 million and restitution to NCDOT in the amount of $1,533,988.
The Antitrust Division’s Washington Criminal I Section prosecuted this case, which was investigated with the assistance of the USPS Office of Inspector General and the U.S. Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina also provided support throughout the investigation and trial.
In November 2019, the Justice Department created the Procurement Collusion Strike Force, a joint law enforcement effort to combat antitrust crimes and related fraudulent schemes that impact procurement and grant and program funding at all levels of government – federal, state, and local. To contact the Procurement Collusion Strike Force or to report information concerning market allocation, price fixing, bid rigging or other anticompetitive conduct related to federal, state or local transportation projects, visit https://www.justice.gov/procurement-collusion-strike-force.