Justice Department Sues Agri Stats for Operating Extensive Information Exchanges Among Meat Processors
Michael S. Flynn, executive and co-owner of an insulation contractor, pleaded guilty today in Bridgeport, Connecticut, for his role in multiple schemes to rig bids in violation of the antitrust laws and to engage in criminal fraud on insulation contracts, marking the second conviction in this ongoing investigation, the Department of Justice announced.
According to court documents, from October 2011 and continuing until March 2018, Flynn, of Ridgefield, Connecticut, conspired with other insulation contractors to rig bids and engage in fraud on contracts for installing insulation around pipes and ducts on construction projects at universities, hospitals, and other public and private entities in Connecticut, New York, and Massachusetts. The conspirators discussed prices and agreed on bids that inflated prices to their customers by at least 10%. In order to conceal their actions, the conspirators perpetrated the bid-rigging and fraud schemes using burner phones and an encrypted disappearing messaging app.
“Today’s guilty plea is the second relating to a $45 million scheme to cheat New England schools, hospitals, and other businesses by agreeing to fix prices on insulation contracts in violation of the antitrust laws,” said Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. “As this prosecution shows, the Justice Department and our law enforcement partners, including the FBI and DCIS, will use every available resource to detect and bring to justice individuals who attempt to hide their criminal conduct by using high-tech encryption apps, burner phones, or any other means.”
“This defendant profited handsomely by colluding with other insulation contractors and inflating bids on $45 million worth of insulation jobs,” said U.S. Attorney John H. Durham for the District of Connecticut. “The scheme victimized hospitals, universities and businesses throughout New England. I thank the FBI, DCIS, and the Antitrust Division for their ongoing efforts to bring the perpetrators of this brazen scheme to justice.”
“Based on the great work of joint law enforcement efforts, the judicial system has clearly confirmed that crimes of deceit and fraud against hard working members of our communities will not go unpunished,” said Brian C. Turner, Special Agent in Charge of FBI’s New Haven Field Office.
“Ensuring the integrity of the U.S. Department of Defense’s (DoD) procurement process is a top priority for the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS),” stated Leigh-Alistair Barzey, Special Agent in Charge of the DCIS Northeast Field Office. “Bid-rigging and fraud schemes, such as the ones in this case, can cause serious economic damage to the DoD’s resources, which ultimately harms the American taxpayer and the U.S. military. Today’s guilty plea is the direct result of a joint effort and demonstrates the DCIS’ commitment to work with the FBI, the Antitrust Division, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to investigate and prosecute individuals and companies that engage in fraudulent activity impacting the DoD.”
The antitrust charge announced today carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of $1 million for individuals. The fraud conspiracy charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. The fines for the antitrust and fraud conspiracy charges may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by the victims of the crime, if either of those amounts is greater than the statutory maximum fine.
In addition to his guilty plea, Flynn has agreed to pay restitution to the victims and to resolve civil forfeiture cases connected to the criminal charges. Flynn agreed to settle the pending forfeiture action on his home for $327,500 and to forfeit all of his seized bank accounts.
The ongoing investigation is being conducted by the Antitrust Division’s New York Office, the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut, the FBI’s New Haven Division, and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service. Anyone with information in connection with this investigation is urged to call the Antitrust Division’s New York Section at 212-335-8035, or visit http://www.justice.gov/atr/contact/newcase.html.