TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Three Florida men have been indicted by a federal grand jury for “conspiring to rig bids” and to “defraud the United States,” according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
The case was unsealed Tuesday, according to DOJ.
“Bid-rigging and fraud schemes targeting the military will not be tolerated – they are an affront to competition and the American taxpayer,” Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division Jonathan Kanter said. “Consistent with a whole-of-government approach, the Antitrust Division will continue working closely with our law enforcement partners and Procurement Collusion Strike Force to protect taxpayer funds from collusion and fraud.”
The three men were identified as Lawrence O’Brien, Bruce LaRoche and Thomas Dailey. The DOJ said they worked together to rig bids for “customized promotional products” to the U.S. Army. While all three appeared in court April 12, only two were charged with conspiring to defraud the United States.
The DOJ said the three men had “exchanged their company’s bid templates and submitted bids to military customers” for each other, with a “pre-arranged winner” to get the sales from the bids. Based on the charges, the DOJ said LaRoche created and used shell companies to submit sham bids to the U.S. Military, in a “conspiracy to defraud the United States.”
Due to the listing of different sales associates, the bids were made to appear competitive, even though “all of the bids were drafted by the co-conspirators and the companies were owned or controlled by LaRoche.” O’Brien is also accused of participating in the conspiracy with his own shell companies, according to the DOJ.
As a result of the bid rigging effort, all three men have been charged with violating the Sherman Antitrust Act, for which the maximum penalty is 10 years in federal prison and a $1 million criminal fine.
“This indictment is another example of our commitment to protecting the contracting process from those who attempt to rig the system in their favor,” Special Agent-in-Charge Michael Curran of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division’s Major Procurement Fraud Field Office said.
The DOJ said LaRoche and O’Brien also each face separate charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States. For those charges, both men face a maximum of five years in prison and $250,000 criminal fine, if found guilty.