A former executive for an Ohio-based civil engineering firm was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison for his role in a long-running bid-rigging scheme in North Carolina.
Brent Brewbaker, formerly of Contech Engineered Solutions, was found guilty in February by a jury in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina on six criminal counts including bid rigging, mail fraud, and wire fraud. On Sept. 8, Judge Louise Wood Flanagan sentenced him to report for an 18-month prison term, starting in 90 days.
According to an October 2020 complaint, Contech and Brewbaker conspired with another, unnamed company from 2009-18 to rig aluminum structure bids used in water drainage systems issued by the North Carolina Department of Transportation. Three whistleblowers and cooperating witnesses—one formerly employed by Contech, two formerly employed by the unnamed firm—testified the two companies conspired together to manipulate numerous bids.
Brewbaker was the Contech employee who submitted the company’s bids, the complaint said.
In the scheme, Brewbaker would confer with the unnamed company on its total bid pricing for specific bids issued by the state of North Carolina. Brewbaker would then have Contech intentionally submit a higher bid, allowing the unnamed company to win it. However, Contech would then supply the lower bidder with the aluminum structures, manufactured by Contech, required to fulfill the bid.
Contech agreed to pay $8.5 million in June 2021 to the Department of Justice and state of North Carolina to settle one charge of bid rigging and one charge of conspiring to commit mail and wire fraud in connection with the scheme.
As part of his sentencing, Brewbaker was also fined a total of $111,600.
“The message is clear: We will pursue and investigate individuals who compromise the integrity of the procurement process for corporate greed and personal gain,” said Special Agent in Charge Craig Miles with the Department of Transportation’s Office of the Inspector General in a press release.
Contech did not respond to a request for comment.
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