On February 24, 2017, Santiago De La Torre, of Cicero, Illinois, was sentenced in U.S. District Court, Raleigh, North Carolina, to 35 months of incarceration and 36 months of supervised release, and ordered to pay $548,984 in restitution for perjury and making false statements concerning highway projects.
The sentence relates to his role in the business Delgado’s Elastomeric Bearings Corporation (Delgado’s), where he forged documents and helped manufacture defective elastomeric bridge bearings, which are shock absorbers for bridges. These defective bearings were sold to multiple highway contractors for use on numerous bridges connected to 25 highway projects in North Carolina. In April 2016, Joel De La Torre, of Chicago, Illinois, was sentenced to 35 months in prison and ordered to pay $21,509 in restitution for his role in the scheme.
In October 2011, a Federal highway contractor discovered a defect in a grouping of elastomeric bridge bearings shipped by Delgado’s between May 2009 and October 2011. The steel plates were exposed, subjecting the bearings to the elements and creating the potential for deterioration. In total, 1,270 bearings were found to be nonconforming and defective. Over time, costs associated with the replacement of the bearings are expected to exceed $5 million due to the difficulty in removing the bearings from existing structures, engineering costs, and traffic control.
DOT-OIG conducted this investigation with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).