Four guilty of bid rigging in relation to Oklahoma transportation construction contracts

Flag of the United States Department of Justice Image: United States Department of JusticeVectorization: Ali Zifan, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Four individuals have pleaded guilty to bid rigging and price fixing in an ongoing investigation of Oklahoma transportation construction contractors in the USA.

The four erosion control company owners or managers admitted their part in a conspiracy targeting over US$100 million in publicly funded projects in the state.

Stanley Mark Smith, a company owner, pleaded guilty on 27 February this year. Roy Henry Henrich, a former owner and officer of another company, pleaded guilty on 4 December, 2023. Ryan Ashley Sullivan, an owner and executive of a third company, pleaded guilty on 6 November, 2023. And James Travis Feazel, a former operations manager of a fourth company, pleaded guilty on 26 September 2023.

According to court documents filed in the US District Court in Oklahoma City, Smith, Heinrich, Sullivan and Feazel conspired, along with others, to rig bids, fix prices and allocate contracts for erosion control products and services.

Starting in 2017, Smith, Heinrich, Sullivan, Feazel and their co-conspirators agreed to raise prices and divide up contracts across different areas of Oklahoma.

They often sent intentionally high-priced bids or outright refused to bid. Smith — whose company targeted over $42 million worth of contracts as part of the conspiracy — and Feazel — whose company targeted over $50 million worth of contracts — continued conspiring into April 2023.

Heinrich — whose company targeted over $7 million worth of contracts — was part of the conspiracy until at least July 2021, and Sullivan was part of the conspiracy until at least April 2019.

The defendants each pleaded guilty to a violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act. They each face a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1 million criminal fine. The 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 amount is greater than the statutory maximum fine. A federal district court judge will determine any sentences after considering the US sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.

US attorney Robert J. Troester for the Western District of Oklahoma said, “Protecting fair and open marketplace competition is essential to protect taxpayers and to ensure consumers can trust publicly funded contracts.

“Corporate executives who conspire to rig bids and fix prices will be held accountable. I applaud the detailed work by the investigators and prosecutors in this case.”

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