The allegation was collusion to rig bids and allocate customers; the trial is to begin Monday
by Sito Negron
Posted on May 15, 2009
The trial of a business owner whom the government alleges was part of a network of suppliers that colluded to rig bids and allocate customers is to go on trial Monday in the court of federal Judge Frank Montalvo.
Others already have pleaded guilty in the case.
One guilty plea came in October from Humberto “Beto” Lopez, who was vice president Of El Paso Steel Doors And Frames Inc. He pleaded guilty to "conspiring to rig bids and allocate customers for contracts to supply and install doors and hardware for construction projects in the El Paso area," according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Justice.
The charge was issued in an indictment in September. Also indicted at the time was the business owner, Lindsay B. Holt, who is scheduled to go on trial Monday, and his company, Architectural Products Co.
The indictment alleged that Lopez, Holt and others "engaged in the conspiracy beginning in the early 1990’s and continuing until at least May 2006," according to the DOJ news release regarding Lopez's guilty plea.
Holt also is charged with obstruction of justice, for allegedly destroying records that were under subpoena and telling others to lie to investigators. A call to his lawyer, Sib Abraham, was not returned.
The indictment was announced in a September news release from the DOJ, which stated:
"According to the indictment, during the course of the conspiracy, Holt, Lopez and their co-conspirators participated in meetings and discussions concerning upcoming bids for certain contracts to supply and install doors and hardware for construction projects. They agreed during these meetings and discussions not to compete on bids for certain contracts. Holt, Lopez and their co-conspirators agreed on which of their companies would win certain contracts. They also agreed to allocate particular customers to designated companies with the understanding that they would not compete to win business from a customer allocated to another company. As part of the conspiracy, Holt, Lopez and their co-conspirators refrained from bidding or submitted intentionally high, complementary and non-competitive quotes or bids for certain contracts.
"In September 2008, Eric Edward Mijares, a former employee of Architectural Products, pleaded guilty to participating in the same conspiracy to rig bids and allocate customers. His sentencing date has not been scheduled.
"Lopez was charged with violating the Sherman Act, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $1 million for individuals. The maximum fines may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by the victims of the crime, if either of those amounts is greater than the statutory maximum fine.
"The indictment also charges that Holt obstructed justice by encouraging his co-conspirators to lie about the existence of the conspiracy if they were questioned about its existence by anyone, including law enforcement officials. Holt also directed one of his employees to destroy and withhold documents called for by a federal grand jury subpoena and to create false documents to be turned over to the grand jury.
"The maximum sentence for obstruction of justice is 10 years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000."
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