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Four owners of school bus transportation companies were sentenced today for participating in bid rigging and fraud conspiracies related to school bus transportation contracts in Puerto Rico, the Department of Justice announced.
Gavino Rivera Herrera, Luciano Vega Martínez, Alfonso Gonzalez Nevarez, and René Garay Rodríguez were convicted after trial in 2017 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico in San Juan. The jury found that they conspired to rig bids and allocate the market for public school bus transportation contracts in the municipality of Caguas from approximately August 2013 until May 2015. Each was also found guilty of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and four counts of mail fraud for defrauding the municipality of Caguas to obtain contracts for school bus transportation services.
For their roles in the collusive and fraudulent conduct, defendants Vega Martínez, Gonzalez Nevarez, and Garay Rodríguez were each sentenced to serve 12 months and a day in prison. Defendant Rivera Herrera was sentenced to a term of two years’ probation, the first six months to be served in home confinement, after a departure based on the defendant’s medical condition. Restitution will be imposed in an amount to be decided at a later date.
“These transportation company owners lined their own pockets with public funds that were intended to provide essential services to at-risk school districts,” said Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. “The sentences imposed today reflect the serious harm caused by the actions of the defendants who enriched themselves at the expense of schoolchildren and American taxpayers.”
As proved during the trial, the four school bus company owners carried out the conspiracy by agreeing to allocate contracts for transportation routes awarded by the Municipality of Caguas. Trial evidence showed that the conspirators submitted fraudulent certifications and received award letters by certified mail in connection with their conspiracy to defraud the Municipality of Caguas.
Today’s sentencings are the result of a federal antitrust investigation into price fixing, bid rigging and other anticompetitive conduct in Puerto Rico’s school bus transportation services industry. The investigation was conducted by the Antitrust Division’s Washington Criminal I Section, the District of Puerto Rico U.S. Attorney’s Office, the FBI’s Puerto Rico Field Office, and the U.S. Department of Education Office of Inspector General. Anyone with information in connection with this or related conduct is urged to call the Antitrust Division’s Washington Criminal I Section at 202-307-6694, visit www.justice.gov/atr/contact/newcase.html or call the FBI’s Puerto Rico Field Office at 787-754-6000.