LAWFUEL – Legal News, Legal Jobs Network – R. Alexander Ac…

LAWFUEL – Legal News, Legal Jobs Network – R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Jesus Torres, Special Agent in Charge, United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement, announced that defendants Raul Gutierrez, Eduardo Hillman-Waller, and Calmaquip Engineering Corporation pled guilty earlier today before the Honorable U.S. District Judge Paul C. Huck for their involvement in a fraudulent scheme to manipulate the bid process for the construction of the Piarco International Airport in Trinidad.

These defendants, along with Rene Diaz de Villegas, Armando Paz, both of South Florida, Steve Ferguson and Ishwar Galbaransingh, both of Trinidad, Richard Lacle, of Aruba, Leonardo Arturo Mora-Rodriguez, of Colombia, Calmaquip Engineering Corporation, a Miami-based corporation, and Northern Construction Limited, a Trinidad and Tobago construction company, were all charged for their participation in this fraudulent scheme. According to the statements made in open court and filings, the defendants conspired to engage in wire fraud by rigging the bid process to secure construction contracts for the Piarco International Airport. On two different occasions, the defendants arranged for a shadow bidder to submit a fraudulent and overinflated bid for one of the airport’s construction projects in order to make their own inflated bid appear reasonable by comparison. On both occasions, the defendants’ inflated bids were accepted.

Specifically, defendant Gutierrez pled guilty today to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and transport in foreign commerce money obtained by fraud (Count 1) and one count of bank fraud for his participation in a scheme to borrow money from one bank to pay off a loan from another bank, commonly called loan kiting (Count 13). In addition, defendant Gutierrez agreed to the entry of a money judgement in the mount of $22,556,100, representing the proceeds obtained by the defendant and his co-conspirators from the fraud. To satisfy this money judgment, defendant Gutierrez further agreed to forfeit his interest in real property located in Coral Gables, Florida, in expensive jewelry, artwork, and bank accounts, all derived, directly and indirectly, from the fraud. Lastly, defendant Gutierrez agreed to pay restitution to the following institutions: Colonial Bank: $3,600,000; Wachovia Bank: $3,206,118; Totalbank: $3,974,982; Hemisphere National Bank: $2,000,000; International Bank of Miami: $2,900,000; and Intercredit Bank: $2,875,000; the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago: an amount not to exceed $4,000,000.

Defendant Hillman-Waller pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and transport in foreign commerce money obtained by fraud (Count 1), and consented to the entry of a money judgment in the amount of $2,000,000. To satisfy this money judgment, defendant Hillman-Waller agreed to forfeit property located in Key Biscayne, Florida.

Also pleading today was Calmaquip Engineering Corporation, a company with its principal place of business in Virginia Gardens, Florida. Calmaquip pled guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and transport in foreign commerce money obtained by fraud (Count 1), and bank fraud (Count 13). Calmaquip also agreed to the entry of a money judgment in the amount of $22,556,100.

Previously, on October 24 and October 25, 2006, co-defendants Rene Diaz de Villegas and Armando Paz, respectively, pled guilty for their participation in this scheme. Diaz de Villegas pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and transport in foreign commerce money obtained by fraud (Count 1), and agreed to assist the United States in any future forfeiture proceedings. Defendant Paz pled guilty to bank fraud charges (Count 12). Also on October 24, 2006, defendant Leonardo Mora-Rodriguez pled guilty to a separate Superseding Information, charging him with conspiracy to transport in foreign commerce money obtained by fraud stolen.

On October 20, 2006, defendant Richard Lacle pled guilty to a separate Superseding Information, charging him with conspiracy to structure currency transactions to evade reporting requirements. Lacle also agreed to the voluntary forfeiture of property derived from the fraud, including two properties in Pinecrest, Florida.

Defendants Steve Ferguson and Ishwar Galbaransingh are pending extradition from Trinidad. All defendants who have pled are scheduled to be sentenced on January 16, 2006 at 1:30 p.m. before Judge Huck. They face up to five years’ imprisonment on the various conspiracy counts, and up to thirty years’ imprisonment on the bank fraud count.

Mr. Acosta commended the investigative efforts of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Richard Gregorie and Matthew Axelrod.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls . Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov/ or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov/.

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