The former head of an Idaho construction firm was sentenced on Jan. 11 to five years in prison on tax and fraud charges that helped the firm stay eligible for federal disadvantaged-business programs and gave it a strong position in its market, the Dept. of Justice says.

Elaine Martin, who had been president of MarCon Inc., a Meridian, Idaho, firm that installed highway guardrails and concrete barriers, pleaded guilty on Jan. 11 in federal district court in Boise to filing a false tax return.

According to the plea agreement, Martin’s fraudulent tax returns and false statements about her finances led MarCon to stay eligible for federal disadvantaged-business enterprise (DBE) status.

That status, in turn, gave the firm an edge over non-DBE companies and helped MarCon to have a “virtual monopoly” in its type of business in the region from 2000 to 2006, the agreement added.

B. Lynn Winmill, chief judge of U.S. District Court for Idaho, on Jan. 11 sentenced Martin to 24 months in prison for the tax charges and resentenced her for 60 months for convictions on fraud convictions. The sentences are to be concurrent.

Winmill also directed Martin, 69, to pay the Internal Revenue Service and Idaho Dept. of Transportation $131,400 in restitution, as well as $22,860 in court costs and a money judgment of about $3.1 million—amounts that DOJ said Martin had paid.

In September 2013, a federal jury convicted Martin of 22 counts, including tax and fraud violations, and in February 2014 Winmill sentenced her to a term of 24 months for one set of counts and 84 months for another group of counts.

But last Aug. 7, a federal appellate court vacated the sentence and Martin’s tax convictions and remanded the case to the district court for, among other things, resentencing on the fraud charges, according to DOJ.

Martin admitted to conspiring to defraud the Small Business Administration and U.S. Dept. of Transportation’s disadvantaged-business programs by submitting fraudulent tax filings and false statements about her finances that allowed MarCon to become or remain eligible for the federal DBE contracting programs.

According to the plea agreement, “MarCon enjoyed a virtual monopoly in its geographic region between 2000 and 2006, which it maintained in part through its DBE status.”

A March 2008 story in McGraw-Hill Construction’s Intermountain Construction magazine—the predecessor of the present ENR MountainStates—said that Martin founded MarCon, then a barbed-wire company, in 1986 with her sister, whom she bought out after one year.

Martin had been active in the Associated General Contractors. She served as Idaho AGC President in 2000 and as an AGC of America board of directors member and specialty-subcontractor committee chair in the mid-2000’s, AGC officials said.

MarCon’s assets were sold after the 2013 federal court action and the company is no longer in business, Wayne Hammon, Idaho AGC chief executive officer, said via email.