October 30, 2017
Pennsylvania Steel Erector Owner Pleads Guilty to DBE Fraud
On October 30, 2017, Donald R. Taylor, president and owner of Century Steel Erectors (Century Steel), Dravosburg, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to conspiracy to defraud the United States. In November 2015, Taylor was charged with conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering for his role in a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) fraud scheme involving federally funded bridge projects. Taylor admitted that he joined and presided over a DBE pass-through scheme in which Century Steel used WMCC Inc., a certified DBE, as a front company to obtain profits from DBE subcontracts.
The investigation revealed that WMCC failed to perform a “commercially useful function,” and Century Steel officials actually found, negotiated, coordinated, performed, managed, and supervised DBE subcontracts related to bridge construction. To conceal the scheme, Century Steel officials used WMCC letterhead and email accounts when communicating with general contractors and Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) officials. Century Steel personnel possessed WMCC business cards, T-shirts, and hard hats, and used WMCC magnetic placards to conceal Century Steel logos on construction vehicles.
Taylor admitted that, between January 2012 and February 2014, a conspiracy between the two companies resulted in WMCC obtaining nine PennDOT subcontracts. The work listed in WMCC’s subcontracts was actually performed by Century Steel, which caused the false claiming of $1.06 million in DBE goal credit. Taylor further admitted that the owner of WMCC was paid a periodic fee for his cooperation during the conspiracy.
DOT-OIG is investigating this case with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with the assistance of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission OIG.