March 8, 2019
FHWA Suspends Virginia Under Bridge Inspection Equipment Company
On March 8, 2019, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) suspended McClain and Co., Inc. from participation in Federal procurement and nonprocurement transactions. On September 5, 2018, a superseding indictment filed in U.S. District Court, Hartford, Connecticut, charged Daniel McClain, the company’s owner and former president, and Kenneth Mix, its former equipment manager, 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 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.
McClain and Co. Inc. 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 vehicle 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, McClain and Co. Inc. 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 to 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 the McClain and Co. fleet. The certificates indicated that the vehicles had been examined in compliance with Federal requirements, although Mix and Smith knew that was not true. Daniel McClain paid Smith for issuing the examination certificates and gave OSHA an internal fatality investigation report that falsely stated the accident was “attributable to operator error.” According to McClain, a 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.
FHWA previously suspended Mix in April 2018 and McClain in November 2018.
DOT-OIG is conducting this investigation with 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 should be consulted to find out whether a company is currently excluded.