A federal jury convicted a former executive at an engineered construction products firm Feb. 1 for his role in a bid-rigging scheme that targeted the North Carolina Dept. of Transportation.
Brent Brewbaker was an executive at the West Chester, Ohio-based Contech Engineered Solutions LLC when he was accused and convicted of conspiring to rig bids and submit false certifications of non-collusion for more than 300 NCDOT aluminum structure projects between 2009 and 2018. The US Justice Dept. said evidence showed that he told another conspirator to submit non-competitive bids. In attempts to hide the fraud, he instructed the unnamed co-conspirator to vary amounts of the inflated bids, and said he would delete text messages about the scheme.
Jurors in U.S. District Court in New Bern, N.C. convicted Brewbaker of conspiring to rig bids, conspiring to commit fraud, wire fraud and three counts of mail fraud. He faces as long as 10 years in prison for the bid rigging conviction and 20 years for each other count.
As ENR previously reported, Brewbaker had been employed by Contech for more than 25 years and is a former president of the Southeast Corrugated Steel Pipe Association. His attorney, Ripley Rand, previously told ENR that Brewbaker did not gain any financial benefit in connection with the projects in question, and that taxpayers didn’t pay anything extra for the projects as a result of Contech’s bids.
Contech provides products for bridge, sanitary sewer, stormwater management and other projects. In October 2020, the company pleaded guilty to bid-rigging and conspiracy to commit mail or wire fraud as part of a plea agreement. Contech agreed to pay a $7-million criminal fine plus about $1.5 million in restitution to NCDOT.
Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter of the Justice Dept.’s antitrust division, which prosecuted the case, warned in a statement that authorities would be looking for similar bid-rigging schemes as infrastructure project funding from the $1-trillion infrastructure bill begins to reach state and local governments.
Brewbaker is scheduled to be sentenced April 12.