Judge Orders Pennsylvania Contractors to Pay $1.33 Million in Restitution to FHWA for DBE Fraud Scheme Involving Hundreds of Bridge Projects
On February 3, 2016, Judy Noll, owner of Karen Construction Inc. (Karen) of Kutztown, PA, was sentenced in U.S. District Court, Philadelphia, PA, and on January 11, Dennis Weber, Dale Weber, and Carl M. Weber Steel Service, Inc. (Weber Steel) of Kutztown were also sentenced. Previously in October 2015, each pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges related to a complex disadvantaged business enterprise (DBE) fraud scheme that ran for over 16 years, totaled almost $19 million, and involved hundreds of Pennsylvania bridge projects.
Dennis and Dale Weber were each sentenced to 6 months home confinement and 5 years’ probation, and Weber Steel was placed on 3 years’ probation. Additionally, the Court ordered these three defendants to jointly pay $1 million in restitution to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Judy Noll was sentenced to 3 years’ probation and ordered to separately pay $336,219 in restitution to FHWA.
Dennis Weber and his brother Dale Weber are the respective president and vice-president of Weber Steel, a bridge and highway construction contractor. They admitted to setting up Karen, a sham DBE owned by Noll, in order to obtain lucrative DBE subcontracts throughout Pennsylvania. From 1995 to 2011, Weber Steel utilized Karen to fraudulently obtain over $18.7 million from 224 federally funded bridge projects.
The Webers and Noll concealed the fact that Dennis Weber controlled Karen Construction and was in charge of Karen's sales, marketing, project selection, and price estimating. Meanwhile, Dale Weber controlled Karen's purchasing, project supervision, and hiring. Although the U.S. DOT construction contracts required Karen to operate as an independent business under the DBE program, Karen and Weber Steel shared a computer network, office space, equipment, fuel, materials, an office manager, and construction employees. Noll created and submitted various false documents to PENNDOT and U.S. DOT indicating Karen was in compliance with the DBE certification requirements. Dennis and Dale Weber used phony invoices to mask the transfer of profits from Karen to Weber Steel to fund year-end bonuses.
We are conducting this investigation jointly with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General.