A federal judge sentenced the owners of two California contracting companies and a former California Dept. of Transportation contract manager to prison for a bid-rigging and bribery scheme.

Chief District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller in Sacramento sentenced the former Caltrans official, Choon Foo "Keith" Yong, on April 24 to four years and one month in prison, and ordered him to pay more than $984,000 in restitution. Mueller also sentenced one of the contractors, William Opp, to three years and nine months in prison, and ordered him to pay nearly $798,000 in restitution. On April 17, the judge sentenced the other contractor, Bill Miller, to six years and six months in prison, and ordered him to pay nearly $1 million in restitution. 

Miller’s company, BRM Construction of Sanger, Calif., worked on highway and other projects for Caltrans. In a separate legal action, Opp claimed he and Miller had a partnership agreement in 2016 and 2017 to evenly share the profits of BRM Construction. 

Prosecutors say Miller orchestrated a bid-rigging scheme, recruiting others like Opp to submit sham bids for projects. Opp formed a separate company with his wife as the nominal president to submit bogus bids. The strategy allowed Miller's company to thwart Caltrans’ competitive bidding process, which required at least two qualified bidders submit before a contract could be awarded. 

Additionally, prosecutors say Miller paid bribes to Yong. According to court records, Yong was in charge of contracts to improve and repair Caltrans maintenance facilities and bridge toll buildings in the Bay Area. Between 2015 and 2019, Yong agreed to steer contracts to Miller in exchange for 10% of the contract value. The value of cash, wine, furniture and home remodeling given to Yong as bribes totals nearly $800,000, according to court records. 

Caltrans_Bribe_Cash_ENRweb.jpgProsecutors shared this photo of $14,730 in cash they say was used for bribes in the scheme. Photo courtesy of U.S. Dept. of Justice


Yong pleaded guilty in the case last April to bid-rigging conspiracy and bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds. He also agreed to pay restitution and cooperate with the ongoing investigation. 

Opp pleaded guilty to similar charges last October and Miller pleaded guilty in November.

Thomas Johnson, an attorney representing Yong, said "Mr. Yong regrets his conduct and we feel he was fairly sentenced by Judge Mueller." Attorneys representing Miller and Opp did not immediately respond to inquiries.

Phillip Talbert, U.S. attorney for the eastern district of California, said in a statement that the scheme, if unchecked, "could threaten to undermine public confidence in the proper functioning of government institutions."

Officials say the joint investigation into the scheme was conducted with the Procurement Collusion Strike Force, a Justice Dept. program launched in 2019 to combat fraud impacting government program funding.