FHWA Debars Pennsylvania Bridge Construction Firms and Owners for 3 Years Related to an $18.7 Million DBE Fraud
On August 17, 2018, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) debarred Carl M. Weber Steel Service (Weber Steel), and its owners Dennis Weber and Dale Weber, and Karen Construction Inc. (Karen) and its owner Judy Noll, for a period of 3 years.
In October 2015, the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, accepted guilty pleas from Weber Steel, Dennis Weber, Dale Weber, and Judy Noll. Each defendant was charged with conspiracy 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. In January 2016, 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. The court also ordered these three defendants to jointly pay $1 million in restitution to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). In February 2016, Judy Noll was sentenced to 3 years’ probation and ordered to pay $336,219 in restitution to FHWA.
The investigation disclosed that Dennis Weber and his brother Dale Weber set up Karen, a sham DBE, to obtain lucrative DBE subcontracts throughout Pennsylvania. From 1995 to 2011, Weber Steel used Karen to fraudulently obtain over $18.7 million from 224 federally funded bridge projects. The Weber brothers 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 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 the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and DOT that indicated 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.
DOT-OIG conducted this investigation jointly with the FBI and the Department of Labor OIG.
Note: Exclusion actions (suspensions and debarments) are frequently for a specific period of time and the System for Award Management (Sam.gov) should be consulted to find out whether a company is currently excluded.