- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 14, 2000

A federal grand jury yesterday indicted two road contractors and their companies on charges of bribing two District of Columbia government employees to inflate city payments to their companies.

The grand jury accused Florentino Gregorio and his company, C&F; Construction Co., and Carlos Granja and his company, Granja Contracting Inc., of bribing D.C. Department of Public Works employees to inflate city payments to their companies.

The two men and their companies were charged in separate federal grand jury indictments of bribery, conspiracy, money laundering and fraud.

According to the indictment, Mr. Gregorio and his road construction company overbilled the city $104,000 and paid bribes of $30,488 to a city road inspector. Mr. Granja and his company overbilled the city $81,132 and paid a city project engineer $12,582 in cash and gave him a $6,500 computer, a printer and a tractor.

Both city employees, who were not named in the indictments, were paid by the District to oversee the construction projects run by the two companies. The two employees jointly owned a landscaping company through which some of the bribes were reportedly laundered.

The two city employees have not been charged.

"There is simply no place in our government for criminal conduct, including the type that is alleged in these indictment," U.S. Attorney Wilma A. Lewis said in a prepared statement.

"The taxpayers and the residents of this city must have confidence that our government agencies are being operated free of corruption. Those who choose to engage in this conduct can be assured we will aggressively investigate and prosecute in order to ensure accountability," she said. "Our city deserves nothing less."

Miss Lewis said Mr. Gregorio and Mr. Granja each face a maximum sentence of 15 years for bribery, five years for conspiracy and up to 20 years for fraud and money laundering, if convicted.

The indictment charges that Mr. Gregorio and C&F; Construction Co. was given a $1,088,555 contract by the Department of Public Works on March 31, 1997, to resurface Massachusetts Avenue from Scott Circle to 15th Street, Nebraska Avenue from Ward Circle to Van Ness Street, Military Road from 27th Street to 30th Street and Wisconsin Avenue from Tenley Circle to Brandywine Street, all in Northwest.

Of that contract, $835,269 was paid for by federal highway funds.

The indictment says that from March 1997 to February 1998 Mr. Gregorio conspired with a city inspector identified only as Inspector A to submit bogus vouchers to the District for payments for concrete that was never delivered to the street-repair projects. The Department of Public Works inspector reportedly received cash and equipment in exchange for processing the bogus vouchers.

The inspector also owned part of a landscaping company that was used as a subcontractor of C&F; Construction on the road projects.

Mr. Gregorio is accused of meeting with Inspector A in the spring of 1997. He reportedly told the city employee that he needed his help to increase profits and that Inspector A would receive a percentage of the profits. The city employee agreed, according to charges, and presented documents to the District that inflated the amount of work C&F; Construction did on the road projects.

In April 1997, the inspector reportedly asked Mr. Gregorio for $10,348 to pay bills for his landscaping company. Later C&F; Construction Co. purchased more than $5,000 worth of equipment for the landscaping company.

Inspector A also received an envelope filled with $15,000 from Mr. Gregorio, the indictment says.

The indictment says that in December 1997, the FBI contacted the inspector about another matter and the inspector called Mr. Gregorio and told him about the FBI meeting. He reportedly told Mr. Gregorio that in order to prevent detection of the bogus billing scheme, he would delete the amount of the inflated invoices on the next payment to C&F.;

Granja Contracting Inc. received a D.C. contract worth $1,102,388 to resurface North Capitol Street between H and M streets, Pennsylvania Avenue SE from 30th Street to Texas Avenue and from 38th Street to Fort Davis Drive. Federal highway funds paid for $989,070 of that work.

The grand jury accused Mr. Granja and his company of meeting with the city project engineer identified as Inspector B in the indictment in 1996 and agreed to pay the engineer for inflating bills submitted under the contract.

During the next two years, the engineer approved inflated payments, which totaled $81,132, to Mr. Granja's company and Granja Contracting paid off a bill of the landscaping company and wrote out three checks to relatives of the city employee, according to charges. The employee also received a laptop computer and a tractor.

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