Guilty Plea Entered by Second Contractor Charged with Paying Bribes to Director of Traffic Engineering
|U.S. Attorney’s Office February 13, 2013|
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; Michael B. Steinbach, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office; Jose A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI); and Marlies T. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of Inspector General, announced that Anthoneel Allen, 40, of Wellington, pled guilty today to conspiracy to commit bribery in programs receiving federal funds, highway fraud, mail fraud, extortion under color of official right, tax fraud, and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise fraud, all in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371. At sentencing, the defendant faces up to five years’ imprisonment, three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000. Sentencing has been scheduled for April 26, 2013, at 1:30 p.m.
Allen was charged, along with James Hashim, 50, of Plantation, in connection with a scheme wherein they paid bribes to Jihad El Eid, who was the director of traffic engineering in the Division of Public Works in Broward County. Hashim previously pled guilty on February 1, 2013.
According to the documents filed with the court, Allen owned Southeast Underground Utilities Corp., (SUU), in Plantation, Florida. SUU installed, repaired, and maintained street lights and traffic signals. Prior to 2005, SUU did not have any contracts with the Broward County government or any Broward County municipality. In or about 2005, Allen hired defendant Hashim to become SUU’s vice president. Hashim worked as an estimator and helped SUU obtain government contracts. Allen admitted that beginning in 2006 through 2010, he and Hashim provided to El Eid more than $150,000 in cash; a 2003 Ford Taurus; and a job at SUU for El Eid’s relative, Wael El Eid, in order to curry favor with Jihad El Eid. In return, El Eid helped SUU obtain work on significant multi-million-dollar projects initiated by the Broward County Traffic Engineering Division, including the Signalization and Street Light Installation (SSLI) contract, a contract to make installations and do repair work of the street lights and traffic equipment in Broward County; the Advanced Transportation Management System (ATMS Project), a federally funded project that required the contractor to install an integrated traffic control system, which entailed laying underground cable and conduit in order to synchronize traffic flow within Broward County; and the Video Detection Contract (VDC), which required the contractor to install video detection cameras in various intersections in Broward County in order to improve traffic flow. El Eid also assisted SUU concerning billing, specification, and inspection matters that resulted in SUU being overpaid by at least $3,000,000.
Furthermore, according to court documents, Allen admitted that he and Hashim conspired to evade paying federal income and employment taxes on bonuses and payments made by SUU related to the purchase of Hashim’s $1.25 million house in Plantation. Allen also admitted that he filed a fraudulent application on behalf of SUU to have SUU certified as a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE), which resulted in SUU being awarded—directly or as a subcontractor—approximately 25 contracts from Broward County and other state, county, and local governments in Florida based on its fraudulently obtained DBE status, which entitled SUU to receive in excess of $10,000,000 in government contracts.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI, IRS-CI, and the U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of Inspector General, in connection with the investigation of this matter. Mr. Ferrer would also like to recognize the assistance provided by the Broward County Office of the County Attorney, the Broward County Professional Standards Section, the Federal Highway Administration, the Florida Department of Transportation, and the employees of the Broward County Traffic Engineering Division. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey N. Kaplan.