May 29, 2018
Illinois Man Debarred for Using Defective Bridge Bearings
On May 29, 2018, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) debarred Joel De La Torre from doing business with the Federal Government until December 27, 2018.
On April 21, 2016, De La Torre was sentenced in U.S. District Court, Raleigh, North Carolina, to 35 months in Federal prison and $21,509 in restitution for making false statements about highway projects, as well as aggravated identity theft. The sentence relates to his role at Delgado’s Elastomeric Bearings Corporation (Delgado’s), where he forged documents and helped manufacture defective elastomeric bridge bearings (shock absorbers for bridges). The defective bearings were sold to several highway contractors for use on numerous bridges in North Carolina.
In October 2011, a defect was discovered in a group of bearings Delgado’s shipped between May 2009 and October 2011 for use in 25 different highway projects. The bearings had exposed steel plates, which subjected them to the elements and created the potential for deterioration. In total, 1,270 of the shipped bearings were nonconforming and defective. Costs associated with their replacement are expected to exceed $5 million due to the difficulty in removing bearings from existing structures, as well as the expense of engineering and traffic control.
DOT-OIG conducted this investigation with the FBI.