Contractor jailed for six years for bribing transport official

©GCR, illustration by Denis Carrier
The owner of a contractor in California was sentenced to six-and-a-half years in prison and fined almost $1m after pleading guilty to bribing a state official with $800,000, as well as with wine, furniture, and construction work on his home.

Bill Miller pleaded guilty in November to bribing Choon Foo Yong, a contract manager with the California Department of Transportation, to secure contracts for his firm.

Miller had faced up to 10 years in prison for the bid-rigging and 10 years for the bribery scheme, which was in operation between 2015 and 2018. However, this was reduced to 78 months as part of a plea-bargain. 

According to the Department of Justice, Miller recruited others to put in sham bids so as to give the appearance of a competitive process.

Miller is the third person to be successfully prosecuted over the affair, and the first to be sentenced.

A business associate, William Opp, pleaded guilty to conspiracy after forming a separate construction company, with his wife as nominal president, to submit bids on Caltrans contracts. Yong pleaded guilty in April 2022.

Jonathan Kanter, assistant attorney general with the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division, commented in a press statement: “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.

“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.”

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