A former executive with an Ohio company was sentenced to 18 months in prison this week for his role in a scheme to rig bids and defraud the N.C. Department of Transportation.
Brent Brewbaker was also ordered to pay a $111,000 fine and a $600 special assessment during a federal court hearing in New Bern on Wednesday. A jury convicted Brewbaker after a week-long trial in January, according to the U.S. Justice Department.
Brewbaker worked for Contech Engineered Solutions of suburban Cincinnati, which pleaded guilty to its part in the scheme last year. Contech agreed to pay a criminal fine of $7 million and pay $1,533,988 in restitution to NCDOT.
Prosecutors accused Brewbaker and Contech of sharing bid information with a competitor on several occasions between 2009 and 2018. The two companies were ostensibly competing to provide aluminum drainage structures for roads and bridges.
Prosecutors said Brewbaker and others at Contech would contact the would-be competitor, identified in an indictment as “Company A,” to find out what it planned to bid on each NCDOT project. Contech would then intentionally bid higher, giving Company A an advantage, according to the indictment.
But when Company A won an NCDOT contract, Contech also benefited, because “it supplied aluminum pieces to Company A for use in those projects,” according to the indictment.
The bids included signed documents certifying, falsely, that they were made “competitively and without collusion,” according to the indictment. Company A was identified as a “co-conspirator” in the indictment, but was not charged by a federal grand jury. Two of the company’s former employees were listed as both co-conspirators and cooperating witnesses.
Brewbaker was convicted of conspiracy to rig bids, conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, three counts of mail fraud and one count of wire fraud, according to the Justice Department. His attorney did reply to an email message asking whether he would appeal.
The case was prosecuted by the U.S. Justice Department’s antitrust division in Washington, D.C., as part of a broader effort to combat antitrust and fraud aimed at all levels of government. The Justice Department created the Procurement Collusion Strike Force in late 2019.
“Today’s sentence reflects the seriousness of offenses that subvert the competitive process, target state and local governments, and ultimately cost taxpayers money,” Jonathan Kanter, an assistant attorney general, said in a written statement. “The division and its Procurement Collusion Strike Force partners remain committed to holding executives accountable when they choose to cheat instead of compete.”
This story was originally published September 9, 2022 4:18 PM.
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