UPDATE: April 26, 2023: A California judge has sentenced the remaining two defendants in a California DOT bid-rigging scheme that occurred from 2015 to 2019.
Former Caltrans contract manager Choon Foo “Keith” Yong and former contractor William D. Opp were sentenced on April 26, following the sentencing last week of Bill R. Miller, owner of Sanger, California-based BRM Construction. Opp conspired with Miller to set up sham bids, and Yong accepted bribes to steer bids toward the two contractors, according to court documents.
U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller handed Yong a 49-month prison sentence and ordered him to pay $984,700 in restitution. Opp was sentenced to 45 months’ imprisonment and ordered to pay $797,940 in restitution.
“My client deeply regrets his involvement in Bill Miller’s conspiracy, and is particularly devastated by the harm that it has caused to his family,” said Brian Gurwitz, Opp’s attorney, in an email to Construction Dive.
Yong’s attorney, Tom Johnson, said that at the sentencing hearing, Yong took responsibility for his actions and expressed regret.
“He received a fair sentence from Judge Kim Mueller,” Johnson told Construction Dive in an email.
This article was updated to include Gurwitz’s comments. The original story follows below.
- A California construction company owner has been ordered to pay nearly $985,000 and serve 78 months in prison for his role in a bid-rigging and bribery scheme aimed at California Department of Transportation officials to steer contracts his way, according to a Department of Justice release.
- Bill R. Miller, owner of Sanger, California-based BRM Construction, previously pleaded guilty to bribing a Caltrans official with more than $800,000 in cash, wine, furniture and remodeling services on his home to game the agency’s bidding process from 2015 to 2019, according to court documents in the case.
- Miller schemed with his former business partner, William D. Opp, and bribed former Caltrans contract manager Choon Foo “Keith” Yong to stack bids in their favor. Both Opp and Yong previously pleaded guilty to their involvement in the ruse, but Miller is the first defendant to be sentenced in the case.
Candice Fields, Miller’s attorney in the case, did not immediately respond to Construction Dive’s request for comment.
“This sentence sends a strong message that criminals who corrupt the competitive bidding process will face stern consequences,” said Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division, in the release. “Protecting infrastructure spending and taxpayer dollars remains a top priority.”
The probe was a partnership between the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division’s San Francisco office, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California and the FBI’s Sacramento Division as part of the Justice Department’s Procurement Collusion Strike Force.
The strike force was formed in November 2019 to combat antitrust crimes and related fraudulent schemes that impact government procurement, grants and program funding at the federal, state and local levels.
With the passage in 2021 of the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, public funding dollars have come under tougher government scrutiny to ensure they are fairly and properly awarded.