When Is an Engineering Company Real?
A Florida company starts and then stops, leaving only a website and legal tangles
Was Bleu Network really a fake engineer, or just a badly run company?
By all accounts, one of the company's owners, Janet LeGrand, was a charismatic saleswoman with ambitious plans for Bleu Network, a firm that competed for sizable public works jobs in South Florida. Law enforcement officials and former employees are calling it a fake company, with LeGrand now facing charges of fraud, unpaid wages and failing to provide workers’ comp coverage, according to Miami-Dade County Court records.
Police say LeGrand “methodically created an elaborate facade to make the Bleu Network Inc. appear to be a large, reputable company,” according to an arrest report cited by the Miami Herald.
Claiming to be an engineer, LeGrand recruited dozens of employees from around the country and the world to work at Bleu Network, with promises of six-figure salaries, great benefits and work for a booming company with projects around the world.
But a number of former employees said they left the company after pay was consistently late or failed to arrive at all.“I do not recommend this company to anyone,” wrote one commenter, identified as a former Bleu Network employee, on the company/job review site Glassdoor. “Not everything that shines is gold and this is definitely the case with this company.”
So maybe Bleu Network was a real operating company that simply ran into financial trouble.
The answer isn't clear yet.
Bleu Network’s website is a highly polished affair, showing a purported network of offices either open or planned for the future far-flung locales ranging from Madrid to Buenos Aires to Beijing and Sydney. The website portrays Bleu Network as a pioneer in public private partnerships, with the firm able to secure “secure project financing in excess of $5 Billion USD debt and equity financing.”
However, the claims of offices and projects around the world were false, law enforcement officials told the Miami Herald.
“We thrive on ingenuity as industry leader in Public Private Partnerships (PPP/P3) and innovative financing across US, Canada, Latin America and Europe,” Bleu Network’s website states.
LeGrand competed for a $33.3-million project in Homestead to develop a 10-screen movie theater with shops, a bowling alley and 1,000 parking spaces. The development project was part of a plan to revive the community’s struggling downtown.
When Bleu Network lost out in the bidding, LeGrand took the city to court and sought to settle the case in exchange for $150,000. She also met with the mayor of nearby Florida City to pitch a similar project there, the Miami Herald reports.
What triggered the investigation is not clear, but several former employees have filed complaints to Miami-Dade County’s wage-theft office saying they have not been paid.
For engineers looking for stable employment, Bleu Network's reviews on Glassdoor are not exactly encouraging.
One commenter, identified as a former employee, said the initial experience at Bleu Network was “great,” with promises of future travel. The owner “is a very talented salesperson.”
However, as time passed, checks started arriving “late, bounced, and excuses were given every time.”
“There was a lot of unconstructive criticism and what once appeared to be a successful company started to look more and more like a scam,” noted the commenter, who resigned and claims not to have received a last paycheck.
The Glassdoor post mirrors a story told to the Miami Herald by Spencer Merryman, who relocated to Homestead from Cancun to take a job with Bleu Network. When paychecks failed to arrive, Merryman said he was told the bank had closed early or a casino owed the firm money and so the funds for payroll were arriving late, among other excuses.
A second commenter on Glassdoor told a similar story, saying a wage theft complaint had been filed with Miami Dade County and for unpaid salary and business expenses.
Under “Advice to Management,” the former employee offered this tip to Bleu Network: “Do not make promises you do not intend to keep.”