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Owner of DBE Highway Construction Company Owner Pleads Guilty to Highway Contract Fraud

Renee Smith, owner of Tone Crack Seal & Supply, Youngstown, OH, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Cleveland, to fraudulently obtaining more than $515,000 on four highway paving contracts set aside for minority businesses by representing herself as a disadvantaged business enterprise. Christ Minerd, foreman of Hardrives Paving & Construction, Inc., of Cleveland, a highway contractor, conspired with Smith in a scheme where Tone Crack served as the minority front company, through which Hardrives won contracts to do work. Hardrives owner James R. Sabatine was charged in August 2001 with bribing public officials to maintain favored status in winning paving contracts and for submitting fake invoices for asphalt that was never applied. OIG investigated the case with the FBI and the Department of Labor OIG. Sentencing has not been scheduled.