- The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority's Office of the Inspector General announced on Wednesday the indictment of Hardutt Singh, vice president of Hyattsville, Maryland-based Potomac Construction, for the alleged attempted bribery of a Metro official. According to court records, Singh was charged with bribery of a public official on Tuesday by a grand jury in Prince George's County (Maryland) Circuit Court.
- The Washington Post obtained a copy of the indictment and reported that in December 2016 Singh supposedly offered a bribe to influence Erick Wilkes in his position as former manager of the Metro's Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Department. Potomac is a minority-owned construction company. Wilkes left his position for reasons unrelated to the bribery charge.
- Metro spokesman Dan Stessel told The Post that the agency was going to launch a review of its relationship with Potomac once all the facts of the case are revealed. On a website that The Post said belongs to Potomac, the company said it has completed more than $500 million of work for the Metro during the past 20 years and that its work for the agency includes design-build, bid-build and job-order contracts.
The Metro is also dealing with another legal action, not for bribery of an official, but around inferior material provided for construction of the authority's $5.8 billion Silver Line. Authorities allege that Universal Concrete Products Corp., under a $6 million contract with the joint venture of Clark Construction Group and Kiewit Infrastructure South, knowingly delivered concrete panels that did not have the required percentage of air content. The material as manufactured would not have been able to withstand the specified useful life once exposed to the freeze-thaw cycles common to the region.
However, because the project was the beneficiary of federal funds — in the amount of $1.2 billion — the Department of Justice has joined the Commonwealth of Virginia in a lawsuit against Universal.
As for cases involving bribery, they are not commonplace, but they are not unheard of either.
Just last month, prosecutors in Ohio charged the former head of Cleveland's demolition department with soliciting and accepting bribes from contractors in return for favorable treatment, like adding them to the city's bid list or giving them inside information about upcoming projects.
And earlier this year, a former New York City Metropolitan Transit Authority construction project administrator was sentenced to 46 months in prison and ordered to pay a fine of $20,000 after pleading guilty to charges that he asked for and received bribes from authority contractors.