Former Public Official and California Contractor Sentenced for Bid Rigging and Bribery
A former Caltrans contract manager and a former contractor were sentenced today in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California in Sacramento for their roles in a bid-rigging and bribery scheme involving Caltrans improvement and repair contracts.
Choon Foo “Keith” Yong, the former Caltrans contract manager, was sentenced to 49 months’ imprisonment and ordered to pay $984,699.53 in restitution. According to a plea agreement filed on April 11, 2022, Yong and his co-conspirators engaged in a conspiracy, from early 2015 through late 2019, to thwart the competitive bidding process for Caltrans contracts to ensure that companies controlled by Yong’s co-conspirators submitted the winning bid and would be awarded the contract. Yong also pleaded guilty for accepting bribes while working for Caltrans, a California state agency that receives significant federal funding. Yong received the bribes in the form of cash payments, wine, furniture and remodeling services on his home. The total value of the payments and benefits that Yong received neared $1 million.
William D. Opp, the former contractor, was sentenced to 45 months’ imprisonment and ordered to pay $797,940.23 in restitution. According to a plea agreement filed on Oct. 3, 2022, Opp engaged in the same conspiracy, from early 2015 through at least as late as August 2018. As part of the conspiracy, Opp formed a separate construction company, with his wife as the nominal president, to submit sham bids on Caltrans contracts. During his participation in the conspiracy, Opp and co-conspirators provided nearly $800,000 in cash bribes and other benefits to Yong.
Yong and Opp are the second and third co-conspirators to be sentenced in the case. On April 17, 2023, former construction company owner Bill R. Miller was sentenced to 78 months’ imprisonment and ordered to pay nearly $1 million in restitution.
“These criminals – including a state employee who sought sales commissions for his role in the bid-rigging scheme – put greed and personal gain ahead of the public trust and are being punished accordingly,” said Director Daniel Glad of the Justice Department’s Procurement Collusion Strike Force (PCSF). “The Antitrust Division and our PCSF partners are on the lookout for those that try to cheat on government contracts.”
“A former Caltrans employee and a contractor have been sentenced today for a conspiracy that cheated a state agency out of taxpayer funds and that, if left unchecked, could threaten to undermine public confidence in the proper functioning of government institutions,” said U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert for the Eastern District of California. “The defendants’ abuse of public trust and the length and breadth of the criminal conduct fully warrant today’s sentences. Bribes have no place in government contracting.”
“All government employees are expected to conduct businesses in accordance with both law and policy to ensure the integrity of those transactions and maintain public trust in the agencies they represent,” said Special Agent in Charge Sean Ragan of the FBI Sacramento Field Office. “No government official should put personal gain ahead of the needs of the communities they represent. The FBI stands ever ready to identify, investigate, and disrupt public corruption to ensure the American public’s trust in the institutions designed to serve and protect them is maintained.”
Today’s sentencing is the result of a joint investigation that was conducted by the Antitrust Division’s San Francisco office, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California, and the FBI’s Sacramento Field Office as part of the Justice Department’s Procurement Collusion Strike Force (PCSF).
Trial Attorneys Christopher J. Carlberg and Tai S. Milder and Assistant U.S. Attorney Lee S. Bickley prosecuted the case.
In November 2019, the Department of Justice created the Procurement Collusion Strike Force, a joint law enforcement effort to combat antitrust crimes and related fraudulent schemes that impact government procurement, grant, and program funding at all levels of government — federal, state and local. To contact the Procurement Collusion Strike Force, or to report information on market allocation, price fixing, bid rigging and other anticompetitive conduct related to construction or infrastructure, go to www.justice.gov/procurement-collusion-strike-force.