Former Engineering Executive Sentenced for Rigging Bids and Defrauding North Carolina Department of Transportation
A former executive of Contech Engineered Solutions LLC (Contech) was sentenced to 18 months of imprisonment yesterday 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 in January, 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 sentence reflects the seriousness of offenses that subvert the competitive process, target state and local governments, and ultimately cost taxpayers money,” said Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division. “The division and its Procurement Collusion Strike Force (PCSF) partners remain committed to holding executives accountable when they choose to cheat instead of compete.”
“The Justice Department’s Antitrust Division, along with our other federal law enforcement partners, secured a victory today in our fight against bid-rigging and collusion,” said Executive Special Agent in Charge Kenneth Cleevely of the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General (USPS-OIG). “The USPS-OIG will vigorously investigate those who would engage in harmful anticompetitive practices, and we continue to ask for the public’s assistance in identifying and reporting those engaged in this type of activity.”
“Violations of the nation’s antitrust laws will be taken seriously and those who circumvent federal bidding and contract regulations will be held accountable,” said Special Agent in Charge Craig Miles of the Department of Transportation’s Office of the Inspector General (DOT-OIG) Mid-Atlantic Region. “The message is clear: we will pursue and investigate individuals who compromise the integrity of the procurement process for corporate greed and personal gain.”
Brewbaker was convicted of conspiracy to rig bids, conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, three counts of mail fraud, and one count of wire fraud. Brewbaker was also ordered to pay a $111,000 criminal fine and a $600 special assessment. Contech previously pleaded guilty to one count of bid rigging under Section 1 of the Sherman Antitrust Act and one count of conspiracy 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-OIG and the DOT-OIG. 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.