An employee of a Sewell, N.J., sub-contractor that provided temporary electrical services was sentenced today to serve 20 months in jail for his role in a kickback and fraud scheme at an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-designated Superfund site in New Jersey, the Department of Justice announced. The sub-contractor was also ordered to pay $154,597 in restitution to the EPA, jointly and severally with his co-conspirators.

Christopher Tranchina of Glassboro, N.J., a service manager for a Sewell sub-contractor, pleaded guilty on Feb. 26, 2009, in the U.S. District Court in New Jersey, to conspiring to defraud the United States. From approximately the Spring of 2001 until approximately June of 2005, Tranchina and other co-conspirators defrauded the EPA by paying approximately $138,000 in kickbacks to an employee of a prime contractor at the Federal Creosote Superfund site in Manville, N.J. In exchange for the kickbacks, Tranchina’s employer was awarded subcontracts at Federal Creosote. The kickbacks were included in the prices charged to the EPA, which partly funded the remediation of the site. Tranchina received approximately $23,000 of the kickbacks, in the form of a hot tub, an HVAC system, cash and checks.

Tranchina had pricing and bidding authority for all sub-contracts between his employer and the prime contractor at Federal Creosote during the charged period. As a result of the conspiracy and in return for Tranchina’s payment of kickbacks to the prime contractor, Tranchina’s employer received approximately $1.2 million in sub-contracts at Federal Creosote.

"Today’s sentencing should make clear that those who conspire to subvert the competitive bidding process will be held accountable," said Scott D. Hammond, Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Criminal Enforcement of the Department’s Antitrust Division.

The charge is the result of an ongoing federal antitrust investigation into bid rigging, bribery, fraud and tax-related offenses conducted by the Antitrust Division’s New York Field Office, the EPA Office of Inspector General and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation. To date, a total of three companies and seven individuals have pleaded guilty. Bennett Environmental Inc. was sentenced in December 2008 to pay criminal fines and restitution totaling more than $2.66 million. The other individuals and companies are awaiting sentencing. EPA awards Puerto Rico nearly $72 million in Recovery Act funds for water infrastructure projects (7/15) EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson has announced the agency has awarded nearly $72 million to Puerto Rico through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. This infusion of money, a combined total of $71,646,800, will help the commonwealth and local governments finance overdue improvements to wastewater and drinking water systems and conduct water quality planning essential to protecting human health and the environment across the commonwealth, according to an EPA press release.

EPA awarded $51,630,500 to the Puerto Rico Department of Environmental Quality, which will provide money to municipal governments and wastewater utilities for projects to protect lakes, ponds and streams in communities across the commonwealth. The grant will go to the commonwealth’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund program, which provides low-interest loans for water quality protection projects for wastewater treatment, non-point source pollution control, and watershed and estuary management. Across the country, an unprecedented $4 billion will be awarded to fund wastewater infrastructure projects under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

EPA awarded $19.5 million to the Puerto Rico Department of Health to finance improvements to water projects essential to protecting public health and the environment across the commonwealth. The funds will go to the commonwealth’s Drinking Water State Revolving Fund program, which provides low-interest loans for drinking water systems to finance infrastructure improvements. An unprecedented $2 billion will be awarded to fund drinking water infrastructure projects across the country under the recovery act in the form of low-interest loans, principal forgiveness and grants.

EPA awarded $526,300 for the Commonwealth’s Water Quality Management Planning (WQMP) grant program. Planning is an important step in EPA’s goal to improve water quality in America’s lakes, rivers and streams. WQMP grants support a broad range of activities, such as setting standards, monitoring the quality of the water, developing plans to restore polluted waters, and identifying ways to protect healthy waters from becoming polluted. States and commonwealths are also encouraged to use these funds for more innovative planning activities like developing plans to adapt to climate change, analyzing trends in water availability and use, and creating low-impact development programs. Grants are awarded to state agencies and some of the funds can be awarded to regional and interstate planning organizations.

At least 20 percent of the funds provided under the recovery act are to be used for green infrastructure, water and energy efficiency improvements and other environmentally innovative projects.