WASHINGTON — John Bennett, a Canadian national, was extradited Friday from Canada on a charge of participating in a conspiracy to pay kickbacks and commit fraud at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-designated Superfund site Federal Creosote, located in Manville, New Jersey.  He was also charged with a related count for major fraud against the United States related to contracts obtained at the Federal Creosote site, the Department of Justice announced today.

Bennett was the former Chief Executive Officer with Bennett Environmental Inc., a Canadian-based company that treated and disposed of contaminated soil.  According to a felony indictment filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey on Aug. 31, 2009 Bennett carried out the conspiracy by providing kickbacks to Gordon McDonald, the project manager at the Federal Creosote site, in order to influence the award of sub-contracts at the site and inflate the prices charged to the EPA by the prime contractor.  The kickbacks were in the form of money transferred by wire to a co-conspirator’s shell company, lavish cruises for senior officials of the prime contractor, and various entertainment tickets.  The department said the conspiracy began at least as early as December 2001 and continued until approximately August 2004.

The clean-up at Federal Creosote is partly funded by the EPA. Under an interagency agreement between the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers, prime contractors oversaw the removal, treatment and disposal of contaminated soil as well as other operations at the Federal Creosote site.

Bennett arrived in the District of New Jersey, in Newark, on Nov. 14, 2014 and made his initial appearance today in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey in Newark.

“The defendant is charged with thwarting the government’s competitive contracting practices,” said Assistant Attorney General Bill Baer of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division.  “This extradition demonstrates our resolve to pursue those who undermine competition.  And it is yet another example of our longstanding cooperation with our enforcement colleagues in Canada’s Department of Justice, which helps ensure that those who subvert competition in the United States and elsewhere are brought to justice.”

The fraud conspiracy that Bennett is charged with carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.  The major fraud against the United States charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1 million criminal fine for individuals.  The maximum fine may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by the victims of the crime, if either of those amounts is greater than the statutory maximum fine.

As a result of the department’s investigation, three companies, including Bennett Environmental Inc., and eight individuals have pleaded guilty.  Bennett’s co-conspirator, Gordon McDonald, was convicted on Sept. 30, 2013, on 10 counts, including the two charges pending against Bennett.  McDonald was sentenced on March 4, 2014 to a 14-year term of imprisonment.

The investigation was conducted by the Antitrust Division’s New York Field Office, the EPA Office of Inspector General and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation with assistance from the Antitrust Division’s Foreign Commerce Section and the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs.  Anyone with information concerning bid rigging, kickbacks, tax offenses, or fraud relating to sub-contracts awarded at the Federal Creosote or Diamond Alkali sites should contact the New York Field Office of the Antitrust Division at 212-335-8000.

Iraqi-Based Construction Company Pays $2.7 Million to U.s. for Alleged False Claims in Bribery Scheme

Iraqi Consultants and Construction Bureau (ICCB) has paid the U.S. $2.7 million to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by bribing a U.S. government official to obtain U.S. government contracts in Iraq, the Department of Justice announced today.  ICCB is a privately owned construction company headquartered in Baghdad, Iraq.

“Bribery will not be tolerated in government contracting,” said Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Division Stuart F. Delery.  “We will ensure that government contracts are awarded based on merit and pursue allegations of fraudulently procured contracts wherever they occur.”

The government alleged that, from 2007 to 2008, ICCB paid bribes to Army Corps of Engineers procurement official John Salama Markus, 41, of Nazareth, Pa., to obtain information that gave it an advantage in bidding on several construction contracts with the Department of Defense in Iraq.  The contracts supported reconstruction efforts involving the Iraq war, including infrastructure and security projects and the building of medical facilities and schools.  ICCB then knowingly overcharged the U.S. for services provided under the contracts, according to the government’s allegation.

“It is offensive that anyone would see projects to promote stability, health and education in a rebuilding country as a way to make illegal cash on the side,” said U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey Paul J. Fishman.  “We will not abide companies paying to play in such a system.”

“The Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) is committed to protecting the integrity of the Defense acquisition process from personal and corporate avarice,” said Special Agent in Charge, DCIS Northeast Field Office Craig Rupert.  “Ensuring the proper use of U.S. taxpayers’ dollars and preventing contract fraud is in our nation’s interest and remains a priority.”

The settlement is part of a larger investigation initiated by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey.  As part of that investigation, Markus pleaded guilty on Sept. 7, 2012, to wire fraud, money laundering and failure to report a foreign bank account in connection with more than $50 million in contracts awarded to foreign companies in Gulf Region North, Iraq.  Markus was sentenced to 13 years in prison on March 12, 2013, in Newark, N.J., federal court.

The investigation is being handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey and the Civil Division’s Commercial Litigation Branch, in cooperation with the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, the Major Procurement Fraud Unit of the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command, the Criminal Investigative Division of the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Homeland Security.  The claims resolved by the settlement are allegations only; there has been no determination of liability.

Caddell Construction Agrees to Pay $1,150,000 to Resolve False Claims Allegations


United States Alleges that Company Falsely Claimed Payment For Native American-Owned Business Participation

The Justice Department announced today that Alabama-based Caddell Construction has agreed to pay to the United States $1,150,000 to settle allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by falsely reporting to the Army Corps of Engineers that it hired and mentored a Native American-owned company to work on construction projects at Fort Bragg, N.C., and Fort Campbell, Ky.

The Army Corps contracted with Caddell between 2003 and 2005 to build barracks at the two bases. As part of the contracts, Caddell represented that it would hire and mentor Mountain Chief Management Services, a Native American-owned company, under the Department of Defense’s Mentor-Protégé and Indian Incentive Programs.   The Mentor-Protégé Program reimburses companies for the time and cost of mentoring small disadvantaged businesses, while the Indian Incentive Program provides a rebate to contractors for subcontracting with Native American-owned businesses.

The United States alleged that from April 2003 to March 2005, Caddell falsely represented in its invoices and supporting documents that it was mentoring Mountain Chief and that Mountain Chief was performing work on the construction projects.   According to the government, Mountain Chief allegedly was merely a pass-through entity used by Caddell to claim payments under the two programs, and didn’t perform the work or receive the mentoring services for which Caddell received payment.

“Contractors that subvert important government programs, such as those designed to benefit small and Native American-owned businesses, will be held accountable,” said Stuart F. Delery, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division of the Department of Justice.  “We will work tirelessly to ensure that participants in federal programs and benefits receive only the money to which they are entitled.”

Caddell’s former director of business development, Mark Hill, and Mountain Chief’s former president, Daniel Chattin, were indicted on related charges in federal district court for the Middle District of Alabama in January 2012.   Both are awaiting trial.   In December 2012, Caddell entered into a non-prosecution agreement with the United States under which it agreed to pay the United States $2 million and to cooperate in the ongoing criminal matter.

The civil case was handled by the Civil Division of the Department of Justice, with investigative assistance provided by the General Services Administration Office of Inspector General and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service.