FHWA Suspends Pennsylvania Bridge Construction Firms and Owners Related to an $18.7 Million DBE Fraud
On August 20, 2015, FHWA indefinitely suspended Carl M. Weber Steel Service, Karen Construction and their respective owners, Dennis Weber, Dale Weber, and Judy Noll. Previously in June 2015, the U.S. Attorney's Office, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, filed an Information charging each with conspiracy to commit wire fraud related to a complex disadvantaged business enterprise (DBE) fraud scheme that ran for over 16 years and totaled almost $19 million.
Dennis Weber, president, and his brother Dale Weber, vice-president of Weber Steel, a bridge and highway construction contractor located in Kutztown, Pennsylvania, allegedly engaged in a scheme to defraud the USDOT DBE program. The Webers allegedly set up Karen Construction, (Karen) a sham DBE owned by Judy Noll, in order to obtain lucrative DBE subcontracts throughout Pennsylvania. From April 1995 through November 2011, Weber Steel used Karen to obtain over $18.7 million from 224 federally funded highway contracts.
The Webers and Noll utilized a variety of tactics to conceal the scheme from USDOT and Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PENNDOT) officials. Noll created and submitted false reports, certifications, invoices, and correspondence which misrepresented that Karen complied with the DBE certification requirements. It was concealed that Dennis Weber was in charge of Karen's sales, marketing, project selection, and price estimating. Meanwhile, Dale Weber was in charge of Karen's purchasing, project supervision, and hiring. Although Karen was required to be an independent business under the DBE program, Karen and Weber Steel shared a computer network, office space, construction equipment, fuel, materials, an office manager and a labor pool of construction employees.
Profits from Karen were shared with Dennis and Dale Weber in year-end bonuses that were disguised through phony invoicing to mask the transfer of funds from Karen to Weber Steel. Noll however did not receive any bonuses or share in the profits of Weber Steel.
We are conducting this investigation with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General.
Note: A suspension or debarment frequently covers a specific period of time. Please consult the System for Award Management to determine whether a company or individual is currently suspended or debarred.