November 16, 2018
FHWA Suspends Owner of Under Bridge Inspection Equipment Company
On November 16, 2018, Daniel McClain was suspended by FHWA following a September 5, 2018, superseding indictment filed in U.S. District Court, Hartford, Connecticut, that charged McClain with two counts of false documents, one count of falsifying records in a Federal investigation, and two counts of wire fraud. The charges stem from the defendants’ alleged role in creating false Certificates of Unit Tests/Examinations of Material Handling Devices (certificates of examination) for under bridge inspection (UBI) vehicles and providing false information to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) during an investigation into the death of a UBI vehicle operator. Kenneth Mix, a co-defendant, was previously charged by indictment and suspended by FHWA for his alleged role in the scheme.
McClain was the sole owner and president, and Mix was the equipment supervisor, at Company A, which rents or leases UBI vehicles to engineering companies and Government agencies for bridge inspection and maintenance projects. UBI vehicles contain a movable boom with a platform. During a bridge inspection, the UBI is positioned on top of the bridge, and the boom lifts inspectors on the platform alongside or beneath a bridge deck. On or about August 26, 2015, Company A leased a UBI vehicle and a vehicle operator to a Connecticut engineering firm for a bridge inspection on I-84 in West Hartford. During the inspection, the UBI vehicle overturned, killing its operator.
The indictment alleges that from approximately January 2012 and January 2015, Mix helped Carol “Casey“ Smith, president and chief surveyor for Martin Enterprises, Inc., create false certificates of examination for the UBI vehicles in Company A’s fleet. The certificates indicated that the vehicles had been examined in compliance with Federal requirements, although Mix and Smith knew that was not true. McClain paid Smith for issuing the examination certificates and gave OSHA an internal fatality investigation report with a false statement that said the accident was “attributable to operator error.” According to McClain, the crash truck operator who witnessed the accident said the UBI vehicle operator used the manual override controls just before the vehicle overturned. However, McClain knew the crash truck operator actually said the deceased operator had used the primary controls, not the manual override controls, and had also saved his life.
On May 25, 2017, in U.S. District Court, Bridgeport, Connecticut, Smith pleaded guilty to falsifying UBI certificates.
DOT-OIG conducted this investigation with DOL-OIG. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Connecticut, is prosecuting the case.
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.