Note: Interesting that this bid rigging case was referred to the USAO-EDCA rather than the Antitrust Division which has a field office in San Francisco. The facts of this case suggest that it could meet the Antitrust Division’s strictest standard for acceptance (that, on first impression, the suspected conduct would likely violate Section 1 of the Sherman Act). This strictest standard has been in effect since early 2009. Prior to this period, the Antitrust Division deployed a very loose standard where it could devote resources to a case even if it was theoretically impossible to charge a Sherman Act offense (like in the award of a sole source contract, for instance, where the contract scheme prevents competition between two or more competitors). This case filing is likely another indication that the Antitrust Division’s procurement fraud mission remains moribund.
San Francisco, New York, and Granite Bay Residents Charged in Bid-Rigging Conspiracy Involving Government Contracts
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A federal grand jury returned an indictment today against John Brewer, 47, of San Francisco; Brent Vinch, 47, of Manorville, New York; and Loraine Dixon, 55, of Granite Bay, charging them with a bid-rigging conspiracy involving state contracts, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.
According to court documents, Brewer and Vinch were the owners of and senior executives for a company called Expert Network Consultants, which submitted bids to the State of California for various government contracts. From 2008 through early 2012, it is alleged that Brewer, Vinch and Dixon conspired with each other and others to rig the State’s competitive bidding process by creating inflated bids for submission by co-conspirators to state contracting agencies in an effort to ensure that Expert Network Consultants received the contracts.
This case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation with assistance from the California Attorney General’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jared C. Dolan and Matthew M. Yelovich are prosecuting the case.
If convicted, Brewer, Vinch, and Dixon face a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1 million fine. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.