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Wednesday, June 19, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Bid-Rigging Alleged in D.C. Contracts

WASHINGTON (CN) - In a federal antitrust complaint, a contractor says District of Columbia officials colluded with building contractors and a surety company to rig the bidding process for infrastructure projects. Cheeks of North America claims it got a raw deal when the city found it "did not have the benefits of minority certification" for D.C. Water and Sewer Authority and Department of Transportation contracts.

Cheeks claims it participated in six bid solicitations issued by the city's Water and Sewer Authority and two from the Department of Transportation, but despite being the lowest bidder the city issued the contracts to building companies that colluded with public officials.

Cheeks claims the alleged antitrust violations cost it millions of dollars in contracts.

Cheeks says D.C. Water and Sewer agreed that it was the lowest bidder for one job, bidding $11 million to replace small water mains, but the city claimed its bid was "non-responsive."

The city responded to Cheeks' bid by writing, "The District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority has declared that your bid submitted on August 20, 2008 to be non-responsive and therefore not eligible for award," according to the complaint.

Of seven bids for one job, with the highest coming it at more than $23 million, Cheeks says it was lowest bidder at $11 million, but was stiffed for the job.

Cheeks names as conspiring contractors Fort Myer Construction, Anchor Construction, Civil Construction, Capitol Paving of D.C., and A&M Concrete Corp. It claims Western Surety Company issued bogus bonds for the projects because the surety company knew the contracts were given to bogus bids.

Cheeks claims defendants the District of Columbia, Mayor Adrian Fenty, Attorney General Peter Nickels and contract officers David Gragan, Jerry Carter, Gabe Klein, James Roberts, and Jim Graham were in on the conspiracy.

Cheeks also sued City Council member Ted Loza and D.C. Water and Sewer Authority officials.

Cheeks seeks $2 billion in compensatory damages and $2.3 billion in punitive damages.

At the top of the massive, 213-page complaint, Cheeks notes that its similar, previous complaint was dismissed: "The District Court, incident to the prior dismissal, suggested that in re-filing this case the plaintiff include in the opening paragraphs, a summary of the several counts with the magnitude of damages stated separately for each count. The following table attempt to follow the Court's request."

Then follows a 1-page table, with 13 counts, or allegations, demanding $2,312,360,246.40 in damages.

Cheeks is represented by Walter Charlton of Woodsboro, Md.

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