Second Guilty Plea in Ongoing Investigation at the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans)
A former construction contractor became the second person to plead guilty for participating 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, William D. Opp engaged in a conspiracy, from early 2015 through at least as late as August 2018, to thwart the competitive bidding process for Caltrans contracts 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, Opp formed a separate construction company, with his wife as the nominal president, to submit sham bids on Caltrans contracts.
“Today’s guilty plea involves crimes affecting industries that receive significant federal funding for infrastructure and transportation,” said Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division. “The Antitrust Division and its Procurement Collusion Strike Force are redoubling efforts to enforce the law against bid-rigging and fraud that steals taxpayer dollars.”
Opp also pleaded guilty to paying bribes to Choon Foo “Keith” Yong, a former contract manager for 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, he received 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.
Opp is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 30 2023, by U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller for the Eastern District of California. For the bid-rigging conspiracy, Opp faces a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years of incarceration and a fine up to $1 million or twice the gross pecuniary loss resulting from the offense. For bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds, Opp faces a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years of incarceration and a fine up to $250,000 or twice the gross pecuniary loss resulting from the offense. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Today’s guilty plea is the second to result from a joint investigation 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).
In November 2019, the Department of Justice created the 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. To learn more about the PCSF, or to report information on market allocation, price fixing, bid rigging and other anticompetitive conduct related to federal government contracts, go to https://www.justice.gov/procurement-collusion-strike-force.
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