Third Guilty Plea in Ongoing Investigation at the California Department of Transportation
SACRAMENTO : A construction company owner became 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 the 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 competitive bidding process for Caltrans contracts on numerous occasions in order to ensure that companies controlled by co-conspirators or himself submitted the winning bid and would be awarded the contract. As part of the conspiracy, Miller recruited others to submit sham bids on Caltrans contracts, including co-conspirator William D. Opp, a former business partner who pleaded guilty in the case on Oct. 3, 2022.
In addition to pleading guilty to bid rigging, Miller also pleaded guilty for paying bribes to Choon Foo “Keith” Yong, the former Caltrans contract manager who managed 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 the bribes in the form of cash payments, wine, furniture and remodeling services on his home. The total value of the payments and benefits Yong received exceeded $800,000.
“This construction company owner is the third person to plead guilty and the highest-level contractor to face justice in the Antitrust Division’s investigation into bribery and bid rigging at Caltrans,” said Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division. “Transportation infrastructure is critical to our nation, so punishing bid-rigging and bribery 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 obligate taxpayer money, making 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 who engage in other acts of public corruption that undermine the public’s confidence in the integrity of the government.”
Miller is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 6, 2023, by U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller. For the bid-rigging conspiracy, Miller faces a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years of incarceration and a fine of up to $1 million or twice the gross pecuniary loss resulting from the offense. For bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds, Miller faces a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years of incarceration and a fine of up to $250,000 or twice the gross pecuniary loss resulting from the offense. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and U.S. Sentencing Guidelines. In addition to his guilty plea, Miller has agreed to pay restitution.
Today’s guilty plea is the result of a joint investigation being conducted by the 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 (PCSF). Assistant U.S. Attorney Lee S. Bickley and Antitrust Division Trial Attorneys Christopher Carlberg and Tai Snow Milder are prosecuting the case.
In November 2019, the Department of Justice created the Procurement Collusion Strike Force (PCSF), a joint law enforcement effort to combat antitrust crimes and related fraudulent schemes that impact government procurement, grant and program funding at all levels of government – federal, state and local. In fall 2020, the 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 on market allocation, price fixing, bid rigging and other anticompetitive conduct related to defense-related spending go to https://www.justice.gov/procurement-collusion-strike-force.