May 2, 2019
State Contractor Sentenced to 18 Months for Defrauding New York State DOT
On May 2, 2019, in U.S. District Court, Northern District of New York, Nathaniel Lorenz was sentenced to 18 months in prison and $600,000 in restitution. Lorenz, owner of ACME Powerwashing, Inc. (ACME), was convicted by a jury in November 2018.
The evidence at trial established that Lorenz, a former police officer and sheriff’s deputy, submitted fraudulent invoices to the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) to conceal the fact that he had not bought the materials he needed to fulfill his contracts.
ACME contracted with NYSDOT in 2015 and 2016 to clean and seal the road portions of bridges, known as concrete bridge decks. The work involved cleaning the bridge decks and then sealing them with a chemical that makes the concrete more resistant to penetration by water, chlorides, and waterborne contaminants that might cause potholes. FHWA provided most of the funding for these contracts, each of which required ACME to purchase a certain amount of sealing chemical based on the number of square feet of the concrete bridge deck. For three contracts issued in 2015 and 2016, Lorenz submitted invoices to NYSDOT that concealed that he had not bought the required amount of sealing chemicals. Instead, he falsely claimed that he bought sealing chemicals from a company that he owned.
Between 2015 and 2016, NYSDOT paid ACME more than $1.1 million for bridge sealing work and approximately $759,000 for bridge cleaning and other work. The evidence at trial established that ACME, a NYSDOT contractor since 2010, had not bought the appropriate amount of sealing chemicals since at least 2012, and had saved at least $500,000 in material costs. Since 2012, NYSDOT has paid ACME more than $3.5 million for bridge sealing work and about $6.7 million for bridge cleaning and other work.
The loss to the Government will be determined at sentencing.
DOT-OIG conducted this investigation with NYS-OIG and the NYSDOT Investigations Bureau, with assistance from FHWA.