A Plainville-based construction company has agreed to pay more than $2.4 million to resolve an investigation that the company committed fraud related to work on a highway project.
Manafort Brothers, Inc. bid $39.6 million on a project to relocate two miles of Route 72 in Bristol and Plainville and reconstruct two miles of existing secondary roads. As part of the bid, Manafort Brothers agreed that a percentage of the work by subcontractors would be performed by disadvantaged business enterprises as part of a federal program designed to help economically and socially disadvantaged small businesses compete in the marketplace.
According to a press release from the office of U.S. Attorney Deirdre Daly, an investigation found that the unidentified disadvantaged business Manafort Brothers indicated would be responsible for reinforcing steel, furnishing a pedestrian bridge and completing most of a retaining wall along the new highway did not perform most of that work. Investigators say Manafort Brothers instead negotiated with and supervised subcontractors, and arranged to pay them through the unidentified company to skirt DBE regulations.
In addition to the civil fine, Manafort Brothers has agreed to several remediation measures, such as the creation of an Ethics and Compliance Officer position, and removal of the company personnel involved in the misconduct, according to Daly’s office.
““Manafort sought an unfair and illegal advantage over its competitors and deprived disadvantaged businesses of an opportunity to perform work on this taxpayer funded construction project,” Daly said. “The fine and the remedial measures mandated by this resolution demonstrate this office’s commitment to ensuring fairness, transparency and equal opportunity in taxpayer funded projects. By entering into this agreement, Manafort recognized that it made false statements to the government and committed to change.”
“Manafort Brothers, Inc. sought to circumvent, misrepresent and outright deceive the U.S. government,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Patrick Ferrick. “Contractors that work on government-funded projects, such as those with disadvantaged business enterprise requirements, need to operate above-board or be excluded from the bidding process. Manafort has agreed to undertake remedial compliance measures and that is a step in the right direction. The DOT, DOL and FBI will continue to investigate this matter until all outstanding issues are addressed.”
According to Daly’s office, the non-prosecution agreement addresses only the corporate criminal liability of Manafort Brothers, not potential criminal charges for any individual.