A US grand jury has indicted a Vietnamese-born contractor for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) for conspiring with a contract PennDOT inspector to steal more than US$3.6 million in taxpayer money, state Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced last week.
Maintenance contractor Thanh Nguyen, 62, of Montgomery County and Robert Slamon, 54, of Berks County (a contract inspector) were arraigned on July 31, according to a news release of the Attorney General’s office.
Kane was quoted by news website Pennylive.com as saying that PennDOT has paid two companies owned by Nguyen, an American of Vietnamese descent, a combined $26 million since 2009. Of that, Nguyen stole $3.6 million by double-billing and charging the state for materials never actually purchased and work that was not done.
Slamon, who was most recently a PennDOT consultant inspector for Czop Specter Inc. in Norristown, was accused of conspiring with Nguyen to falsify records and enabling Nguyen to get paid for work he never did. A grand jury witness testified to seeing Slamon receive a $5,000 cash payment from Nguyen.
“When we became aware of the issues, we immediately started to investigate the circumstances and review existing procedures,” PennDOT spokeswoman Erin Waters-Trasatt said in a statement. “PennDOT is committed to honest and efficient management of the transportation system. We take these issues very seriously, are cooperating with investigators and have been aggressively pursuing follow-up action.”
Waters-Trasatt said PennDOT is reviewing operations at the agency's District 6 maintenance unit.
The Attorney General's Office began investigating District 6, which includes Philadelphia and four surrounding counties, in March 2013. In April, Kane's office accused PennDOT consultant inspector Joseph DeSimone, 33, of Philadelphia of lying to a grand jury and charged him with perjury.
Nguyen and Slamon were arraigned and released on charges including theft, tampering with public records, corruption, bribery and conspiracy.
If convicted, Nguyen faces up to 150 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 plus restitution. Slamon would face up to 95 years in prison and a $150,000 fine.