In South Carolina — as in other states — there are some requirements for minority participation in publicly funded projects. However, there have been several cases in recent years in which construction company owners were prosecuted for taking advantage of opportunities to enrich themselves by using minority businesses as fronts. Federal prosecutors recently indicted a group of people in the construction industry in South Carolina on allegations of this type of fraud.
It is alleged that the group of seven executives and associates set up bogus minority and disadvantaged companies which they operated with the intention of winning government contracts. It is also claimed that the government contracts the group secured since 2002 brought them about $350 million in state money. Furthermore, it is alleged that further fraud was committed when the group solicited existing minority companies owned by women, veterans and others to assist in their fraudulent endeavors.
Convictions, should they be obtained, could result in prison sentences of between five and 20 years, along with substantial fines. Last year, three executives in the steel industry pleaded guilty to similar charges for which they had to pay more than $1.3 million in fines. They were sentenced to probation. Earlier this year, a woman in another state was found guilty of allowing contractors to use her company as a front. Her sentence is pending.
The seven accused South Carolina individuals have no doubt secured experienced criminal defense attorneys to defend these fraud charges. Skilled attorneys can explain the legal options under the law and suggest the most appropriate way ahead. Decisions made at this time could affect the rest of an individual’s life, and being confident in the abilities of one’s legal counsel to provide proper guidance and a strong defense may lead to the best possible outcome under the circumstances.
Source: constructiondive.com, “SC contractors indicted in $350M DBE fraud case“, Kim Slowey, Aug. 8, 2016