California Construction News staff writer
A construction company owner is the third person to plead guilty in a bid-rigging and bribery scheme involving California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) improvement and repair contracts.
According to a plea agreement filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California in Sacramento, Bill R. Miller engaged in a conspiracy, from April 2015 through at least December 2019, to thwart the competitive bidding process for Caltrans contracts on numerous occasions to ensure that companies controlled by co-conspirators or himself submitted the winning bid and would be awarded the contract.”
“As part of the conspiracy, Miller recruited others to submit sham bids on Caltrans contracts, including co-conspirator William D. Opp, a former business partner who pleaded guilty in the case on Oct. 3, 2022.”
In addition to pleading guilty to bid rigging, Miller also pleaded guilty to paying bribes to Choon Foo “Keith” Yong, the former Caltrans contract manager who managed the contracts involved on behalf of Caltrans, the California State of Justice said in a news release.
According to Yong’s plea agreement, he “received the bribes in the form of cash payments, wine, furniture and remodeling services on his home. The total value of the payments and benefits Yong received exceeded $800,000.”
“This construction company owner is the third person to plead guilty and the highest-level contractor to face justice in the Antitrust Division’s investigation into bribery and bid rigging at Caltrans,” Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division said in a statement. “Transportation infrastructure is critical to our nation, so punishing bid-rigging and bribery schemes that target public works remains a top priority for the division and its Procurement Collusion Strike Force partners.”
Miller is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 6, 2023, by U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller.
The maximum statutory penalty for bid rigging is 10 years of incarceration and a fine of up to $1 million. For bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds, the maximum statutory penalty is 10 years and up to $250,000.
The guilty plea is the result of a joint investigation being conducted by the Antitrust Division’s San Francisco office, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California and the FBI’s Sacramento Division as part of the Justice Department’s Procurement Collusion Strike Force (PCSF).