In the criminal fraud case involving Schuylkill Products, Inc., and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program (see my earlier post here about this case), the former Schuylkill Products vice presidents in charge of sales and marketing and field operations received lengthy prison sentences and were ordered to pay restitution of $119 million.
The official press release on the sentencing can be found here. This is from the press release:
“The sentences handed down today, in what is the largest reported DBE fraud case in USDOT history, serve as clear signals that severe penalties await those who would attempt to subvert USDOT laws and regulations,” said Doug Shoemaker, OIG Regional Special Agent in Charge. “Preventing and detecting DBE fraud are priorities for the Secretary of Transportation and the USDOT Office of Inspector General. Prime contractors and subcontractors are cautioned not to engage in fraudulent DBE activity and are encouraged to report any suspected DBE fraud to the USDOT-OIG. Our agents will continue to work with the Secretary of Transportation; the administrators of the Federal Highway, Transit, and Aviation Administrations; and our law enforcement and prosecutorial colleagues to expose and shut down DBE fraud schemes throughout Pennsylvania and the United States.”
According to U.S. Attorney Peter J. Smith, the DBE fraud lasted for over 15 years and involved over $136 million in government contracts in Pennsylvania alone. SPI, using Marikina as a front, operated in several other states in the Mid-Atlantic and New England regions. Although Marikina received the contracts on paper, all the work was really performed by SPI personnel, and SPI received all the profits. In exchange for letting SPI use its name and DBE status, Marikina was paid a small fixed-fee set by SPI.
This latest news is just more proof, if any was ever needed, that DBE fraud does not pay. Contractors working on federally-funded highway projects should be especially wary of trying to sidestep the strict DBE rules that govern such projects. Doing so, as shown by these sentences, can have serious and life-altering consequences.
If you are a contractor working on a federally-funded highway project, and have questions concenrning the US DOT DBE program, feel free to contact me. I’ll be happy to answer any questions you have.