The former chief executive at Bennett Environmental Inc., a Canada-based company that treats and disposes of contaminated soil, was sentenced Tuesday to serve five years and three months in prison in connection with the payment of kickbacks to obtain subcontracts at a New Jersey Superfund site overseen by the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, according to officials.
Judge Susan D. Wigenton also ordered John Bennett, of Vancouver, British Columbia, to pay a $12,500 criminal fine and $3.8 million restitution.
Bennett was charged with these crimes in August 2009 and was extradited from Canada to the United States in November 2014 to face trial, according to officials.
After a three-week jury trial that ended on March 16, 2016, Bennett was convicted of committing major fraud against the United States and conspiring to pay more than $1.3 million in kickbacks and to defraud the United States at the Federal Creosote Superfund site in Manville, New Jersey.
“Contractors cannot make payoffs to obtain government contracts,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Renata Hesse for the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division. “Today’s sentencing reaffirms the division’s dedication to prosecuting executives whose greed and illegal ploys undercut competition and defraud the United States.”
The investigation at Federal Creosote has resulted in the conviction of ten individuals and three companies of charges including major fraud against the United States, tax fraud, money laundering and obstruction of justice.
As a result of the payment of these kickbacks, Bennett Environmental was fraudulently awarded tens of millions of dollars in soil treatment and disposal contracts at Federal Creosote, and the company won contracts at higher prices than it otherwise would have bid, causing harm to the EPA.
Criminal fines and restitution of more than $6 million also have been imposed and seven of the individuals have been sentenced to serve prison sentences ranging from 5 months to 14 years.
According to court documents, between 2001 and 2004 Bennett conspired with others at Bennett Environmental to pay kickbacks to the project manager at Federal Creosote to get soil treatment contracts that included money wired to a co-conspirator’s shell company, lavish trips and entertainment expenses and personal gifts.
According to the EPA, former Federal Creosote Superfund Site was located in the Borough of Manville, New Jersey, and included a 15-acre commercial development and a 35-acre residential community of single-family homes.
A coal tar wood treatment facility previously operated on the land from about 1911 to the mid-1950s. Facility operations contaminated Site soil and groundwater, EPA officials.
Cleanup of Site soil has been completed, the Site has been deleted from the National Priorities List, and long-term groundwater monitoring is ongoing, officials said.
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