May 29, 2020
New Jersey Contractor Sued by Justice Department for Alleged DBE Fraud
On May 29, 2020, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Civil Division, District of New Jersey, filed a civil False Claims Act complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey against defendants C. Abbonizio Contractors, Inc. (Abbonizio) and its president Peter Abbonizio.
The complaint alleges that beginning in or about February 2013, prime contractor PKF Mark III (PKF) entered into a subcontract with Abbonizio to perform earthwork and pipe installation on the Federal Highway Administration ARRA-funded New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) Direct Connection Project (DCP). The DCP project entailed bridge and roadway reconfiguration of the I-295, I-76, and Route 42 interchange, located in Camden County, New Jersey. The initial price of the subcontract was over $39 million and included a Federal requirement to use DBEs. The complaint alleges that the defendants caused PKF to misrepresent to NJDOT that Abbonizio was using certified DBEs for commercially useful functions on the DCP, when in actuality, the DBEs (including fuel and material suppliers) were being used as pass-through entities to invoice for work that was performed by non-DBEs.
DOT-OIG is conducting this investigation jointly with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey OIG.