An executive at a Michigan paving and excavating contractor has pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to restrain trade. The contractor, Clarkston, Mich.-based F. Allied Construction Co. Inc., and another executive at the company are also charged in the federal bid-rigging case that officials say resulted from a wider asphalt paving sector investigation.
Kevin Shell, vice president of estimating for Allied, conspired with company president, Andrew Foster, and two other contractors and their employees to rig bids for asphalt paving services between June 2013 and June 2019 and separately from July 2017 through May 2021, the U.S. Dept. of Justice Antitrust Division charged in court filings. Prosecutors did not name the other contractors alleged to have been involved in the bid rigging.
Shell pleaded guilty Aug. 17 before a federal judge in Detroit. His sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 30. An attorney representing Shell declined to comment. A plea hearing for Foster is scheduled for Aug. 29.
The agreed-upon “losing” companies would submit intentionally non-competitive bids in order to give project owners the false impression of competition for jobs, according to prosecutors.
The Justice Dept. conducted the investigation along with the U.S. Dept. of Transportation and U.S. Postal Service as part of an ongoing probe into anticompetitive conduct in the asphalt paving sector, officials said in a press release.
“Our economic vitality depends on a fair and competitive bidding process to construct, and maintain, America’s infrastructure,” said Jonathan Kanter, assistant attorney general of the Antitrust Division, in a statement.
Shell faces a sentence of up to 10 years in prison and fine of up to $1 million on each count. If Foster is convicted, he could face a similar sentence.
Allied itself faces criminal fines of up to $100 million per count if convicted. Attorneys separately representing the company and Foster did not immediately respond to inquiries.