Former Airport Contractor Pleads Guilty to Paying Over $5 Million in Bribes and Kickbacks
William Pritula, 69, of Romulus pleaded guilty to paying co-defendant James Warner, a field inspector at the Wayne County Airport Authority (WCAA), over $5 million in bribes and kickbacks between May of 2010 and August of 2014, United States Attorney Matthew Schneider announced today.
Schneider was joined in the announcement by Timothy Slater, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Detroit Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Thomas J. Ullom, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Office of the United States Department of Transportation, Office of Inspector General.
Pritula, who owned and operated Pritula and Sons, a company which sought and entered into contracts for pavement repair and replacement, as well as water main repair and fire hydrant installation and maintenance at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport, participated in a scheme in which Warner, with Pritula’s knowledge, would draft and submit fraudulently-inflated invoices for work which Pritula was contracted to perform at the airport. Upon payment by the WCAA to Pritula, Pritula would kickback roughly half of the profits to Warner—a total of over $5 million over four years. Thus far, law enforcement has seized $11.4 million in criminal proceeds, including $7.5 million from Pritula and $3.9 million from Warner.
The bribery charge to which Pritula has pleaded guilty carries a maximum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000.
United States Attorney Schneider said, “Today’s guilty plea to one of the largest bribes prosecuted to date in the Eastern District of Michigan, reinforces our continued commitment to protecting our citizens from the fraud, waste, and abuse that stems from bribe-paying contractors who are motivated by greed rather than a desire to improve our public infrastructure.”
“To those who seek advantage in obtaining government contracts by paying kickbacks or bribes, the message should be clear—the collective resources of the FBI and our law enforcement partners will expose your illegal activities and bring you to justice”, said Timothy R. Slater, Special Agent in Charge, Detroit Division of the FBI.
“As evidenced by the guilty plea entered into today by William Pritula, investigating acts of corruption and pursing the individuals who commit them remains a top priority for the Department of Transportation (DOT) Office of Inspector General (OIG),” stated Thomas J. Ullom, Regional Special Agent-In-Charge, DOT-OIG. “Working with our law enforcement and prosecutorial partners, we will continue our vigorous efforts in preventing, detecting and prosecuting infrastructure fraud.”
The investigation of this case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Transportation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Eaton P. Brown, Paul Kuebler and R. Michael Bullotta.