A construction company owner has become the third person to plead guilty for his role in a bid-rigging and bribery scheme involving California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) improvement and repair contracts.
According to a plea agreement filed today in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California in Sacramento, Bill R. Miller engaged in a conspiracy, from April 2015 through at least December 2019, to thwart the process of bidding for Caltrans contracts on numerous occasions to ensure that companies controlled by co-conspirators or himself submit the winning bid and get the contract. As part of the conspiracy, Miller recruited others to submit fictitious bids on Caltrans contracts, including co-conspirator William D. Opp, a former business partner who pleaded guilty in the case on October 3. 2022.
In addition to pleading guilty to bid-rigging, Miller also pleaded guilty to paying bribes to Choon Foo “Keith” Yong, the former Caltrans contracts manager who handled the contracts involved on behalf of Caltrans, a California state agency that receives significant federal funding. On April 11, 2022, Yong pleaded guilty to his role in the bid-rigging and bribery scheme. According to Yong’s plea agreement, Yong received bribes in the form of cash payments, wine, furniture, and renovation services on his home. The total value of payments and benefits received by Yong exceeded $800,000.
“This construction company owner is the third person to plead guilty and the highest-ranking contractor to face justice in the Antitrust Division’s bribery and bid-rigging investigation at Caltrans,” a said Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division. “Transportation infrastructure is critical to our country, so punishing bid-rigging and corruption schemes that target public works remains a top priority for the division and its Procurement Collusion Strike Force partners.”
“California has many government projects that tie up taxpayer dollars, which makes it important to root out corruption and protect the integrity of the contracting process,” said U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert for the Eastern District of California. “My office is committed to investigating and prosecuting those who attempt to bribe public officials or engage in other acts of public corruption that undermine public confidence in the integrity of government.”
Miller is scheduled to be sentenced on February 6, 2023 by U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller. For the bid-rigging conspiracy, Miller faces a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million or double the gross monetary loss resulting from the offense. For bribery involving programs receiving federal funds, Miller faces a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 or double the gross monetary loss resulting from the offense. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of all applicable statutory factors and US sentencing guidelines. Along with his guilty plea, Miller agreed to pay restitution.
Today’s guilty plea is the result of a joint investigation by the San Francisco office of the Antitrust Division, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California, and the Sacramento Division of the FBI as part of the Ministry of Justice’s Procurement Collusion Strike Force (PCSF).
In November 2019, the Department of Justice established the Procurement Collusion Strike Force (PCSF), a joint law enforcement effort to combat antitrust crimes and related fraudulent schemes that impact public procurement, grants and program funding at all levels of government – federal, state and local. In fall 2020, Strike Force expanded its footprint with the launch of PCSF: global, designed to deter, detect, investigate, and prosecute collusive schemes that target government spending outside of the United States. To learn more about the PCSF, or to report information about market sharing, price fixing, bid-rigging, and other anti-competitive conduct related to defense spending, go to https://www .justice.gov/procurement-collusion-strike-force.