Charges Allege Quakertown Business Owner Exploited The USDOT Disadvantaged Business Program
PHILADELPHIA – Rajat K. Verma, 66, of Quakertown, PA, was charged by information with conspiracy in a fraud scheme involving the USDOT Disadvantaged Business Program and work performed on the federally funded George C. Platt Memorial Bridge Project, announced United States Attorney Zane David Memeger.
Verma is the president and sole owner of Vertech, a corporation in Quakertown that is currently certified as a Disadvantaged Business. In April 2011, PENNDOT awarded an approximately $42.7 million contract to perform structural steel painting and repairs on the George C. Platt Memorial Bridge in Philadelphia. The contract was awarded to a joint venture - “DE JV” – which is composed of Company D and Company E, neither of which is a certified disadvantaged business. During the bid process in March 2011, the DE JV submitted a commitment to PENNDOT to subcontract approximately $3.1 million in Disadvantaged Business work to Vertech to supply paint materials for that project. The DE JV, Company D, and Company E negotiated contracts for and ordered materials for the Platt Bridge Project directly with suppliers that were not Disadvantaged Businesses, and without the knowledge or involvement of Vertech. Vertech did not perform any commercially useful function, but allegedly acted as a mere pass-through or front, to give the appearance that disadvantaged business enterprise requirements had been met on the Platt Bridge Project. PENNDOT awarded approximately $1.97M in Disadvantaged Business credit to the DE JV during the course of the Platt Bridge Project based on Disadvantaged Business work allegedly performed by Vertech. It is alleged that DE JV paid Vertech 1.75% of the face value of the invoices processed by Vertech to act as a pass-through.
If convicted, Verma faces a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, a possible fine, supervised release and a $100 special assessment.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General, the FBI, the Department of Labor Office of Inspector General, the Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Investigation Division, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations, and IRS Criminal Investigations. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Paul Shapiro.
An information is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.