Contractor Pleads Guilty to Paying Kickbacks in V.I., P.R.

A mechanical engineer who got work repairing federal buildings on Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands admitted he sought and obtained kickbacks for doing that work. U.S. Attorney Gretchen Shappert announced the guilty plea entered by Renialdo Cruz Taura in a news release issued Wednesday.

Taura, president of RCT Mechanical Engineering, was arrested June 3 and accused of violating a provision of federal law that guides the lawful conduct of business owners working under contract with the U.S. government.

Court documents say Taura admitted paying kickbacks to a project manager with the prime contractor totaling $1.2 million. In exchange, the defendant would get favorable treatment when contracts to perform work at the Coast Guard headquarters building in Puerto Rico and the Almeric Christian Federal Building in Christiansted.

Federal law prohibits contractors from providing, offering, soliciting or accepting kickbacks.

Under a program begun in 2008, the U.S. Department of Energy awarded sixteen prime contractors contracts that allowed them to execute large scale energy savings and facility improvement jobs while avoiding large capital outlays. At the time of the offense committed between June 2011 and June 2015, Taura was working for a prime contractor based in New Hampshire.

Investigators were able to document instances where, over the course of five years, the project manager identified by the initials B.P. inflated bid prices and received illegal payments with help from subcontracting bidders.

The RCT Mechanical Engineering kickback case was investigated by the General Services Administration – Office of the Inspector General, the Department of Veterans Affairs – Office of the Inspector General, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, the Department of Agriculture – Office of the Inspector General, the Coast Guard Investigative Service, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nathan Brooks and Jennifer Blecher.