On May 11, 2017, FHWA suspended and proposed the debarment of Hercules Painting Company and its owner, Maria Savakis, based on an information filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania The information charged Maria Savakis with theft from a healthcare program, which was related to a fraudulent payroll scheme involving construction work performed on the FHWA-funded George C. Platt Memorial Bridge Project (Platt Bridge Project) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
In April 2011, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) awarded an approximately a $42.7 million federally funded contract to perform structural steel painting and repairs on the Platt Bridge. PennDOT awarded the contract to a joint venture (JV) composed of two companies, one of which was owned by Savakis.
The information alleged that Savakis devised and carried out a payroll scheme under which the JV paid its employees on two separate payrolls. One payroll, which constituted only a portion of the hours worked, was reported on the certified payrolls at the full prevailing wage rate required by the contract. The second payroll, which paid the employees for their remaining hours at a lower rate, was not reported on the certified payrolls. As part of the payroll scheme, and as a consequence of submitting false certified payrolls to PennDOT and the Department of Labor (DOL), Savakis caused the JV to retain money that it was obligated, by law and under contract, to deposit on behalf of its employees into the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades’ District Council No. 21 Welfare Fund.
DOT-OIG is conducting this ongoing investigation jointly with the FBI, DOL-OIG, Environmental Protection Agency-Criminal Investigation Division (EPA-CID), Homeland Security Investigations, and Internal Revenue Service (IRS)-Criminal Investigation. FHWA provided substantial assistance.
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.