WASHINGTON – A construction company owner in California was sentenced to 78 months’ imprisonment and ordered to pay $984,699 in restitution for his role in a bid-rigging and bribery scheme involving California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) improvement and repair contracts.
According to a guilty plea entered on Nov. 14, 2022, 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 as late as December 2019. 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 to 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 for 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 bribes that Miller paid to Yong was nearly $1 million. Miller is the first defendant to be sentenced in the case.
“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. “Protecting infrastructure spending and taxpayer dollars remains a top priority for the Antitrust Division and our Procurement Collusion Strike Force partners.”
“A lengthy investigation and a series of guilty pleas has led to the sentencing today for a bid-rigging and bribery conspiracy,” said U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert for the Eastern District of California. “But our work is not done. Anticompetitive practices harm taxpayers and legitimate businesses alike. My office will continue to investigate and prosecute such conduct.”
“Fair and free competition is essential to ensure taxpayer money is only obligated and spent on essential services and contracts,” said Special Agent in Charge Sean Ragan of the FBI Sacramento Field Office. “The FBI is committed to working with our partners to investigate such allegations, and bringing to justice those who conspire to enrich themselves by cheating the American public as a whole. We hope this sentence serves as ample warning to anyone contemplating a scheme to falsely influence a government bidding process for personal gain.”
Today’s sentencing is the result of a joint investigation that was 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). Trial Attorneys Christopher J. Carlberg and Tai S. Milder and Assistant U.S. Attorney Lee S. Bickley prosecuted the case.
In November 2019, the Department of Justice created the Procurement Collusion Strike Force, 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. To contact the Procurement Collusion Strike Force, or to report information on market allocation, price fixing, bid rigging and other anticompetitive conduct related to construction or infrastructure, go to https://www.justice.gov/procurement-collusion-strike-force.