Construction bosses plead guilty in $100m bid rigging case

Illustration by Denis Carrier/©GCR
Four executives in Oklahoma have pleaded guilty to rigging bids and fixing prices on more than $100m worth of public transportation infrastructure contracts in the state.

Stanley Mark Smith, a company owner, pleaded guilty this week. Roy Henry Heinrich, Ryan Ashley Sullivan, and James Travis Feazel admitted guilt in separate trials last year.

According to documents filed in the US District Court in Oklahoma City, Smith, Heinrich, Sullivan and Feazel conspired with others to rig bids, fix prices and allocate contracts for erosion control products and services.

Starting in 2017, the conspirators agreed to raise prices and share out contracts. As part of the conspiracy, some companies entered overpriced bids or refused to tender at all.

Smith, whose company targeted over $42m worth of contracts, conspired with Feazel, whose company targeted over $50m, until April last year.

Heinrich, whose company targeted over $7m, was part of the conspiracy until July 2021, and Sullivan was part of the conspiracy until April 2019.

“Protecting fair and open competition for the public contracts that fund this infrastructure has never been more vital,” said Jonathan Kanter, an assistant attorney general with the Justice Department.

“These guilty pleas show that the Justice Department and its Procurement Collusion Strike Force partners are committed to investigating and prosecuting anyone who uses criminal schemes to target infrastructure contracts.”

The defendants each face a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1m fine. The fine may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by the victims of the crime if either amount is greater than the statutory maximum.

A federal district court judge will determine the sentences after considering the US Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

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