A Cincinnati-based company and one of its top executives have pleaded guilty to circumventing Ohio’s competitive bid process, a move the state’s top lawyer said cheated taxpayers out of tens of thousands of dollars.
Attorney General Mike DeWine announced on Tuesday that Quattro Inc. pleaded guilty to two felonies while sales manager Timothy O’Brien pleaded guilty to three misdemeanors. The pleas were made in exchange for cooperation with the investigation.
The company was charged with submitting multiple bids on road jobs under different company names, creating the illusion of a competitive process while really manipulating the price they’d be paid. They were supposed to provide traffic control devices, such as arrow signs, orange barrels and cones.
The company pleaded guilty to one count of entering into an unlawful combination contract, and one count of attempting to engage in a pattern of corrupt behavior. It agreed to pay $42,796 in penalties and restitution.
O’Brien pleaded guilty to three counts of engaging in a conspiracy against trade and agreed to pay $5,872 in penalties and restitution.
The charges were the first in almost three decades brought under Ohio’s antitrust statute, the Valentine Act.