Trial Slated for Contractor Accused in Kickback Scheme

St. Croix District Courthouse
The Almeric Christian Federal Building and Courthouse on St. Croix. (Source file photo)

The head of a Puerto Rico-based engineering firm accused of paying $1.2 million dollars in exchange for federal contracts is scheduled to stand trial on Aug. 5.

Reinaldo Cruz Taura, president of RCT Mechanical Engineering was arrested June 3 in Miami. Federal investigators accuse Taura of taking part in a scheme with Bhaskar Patel, a project manager from Schneider Electric Building America, between June 2011 and June 2015.

On May 29, Taura was named in a federal charging document alleging he knowingly and willingly provided kickbacks in violation of U.S. Code Title 41, Section 8702. Authorities specifically charge the defendant with inflating the cost of providing mechanical upgrades to U.S. Coast Guard headquarters in Puerto Rico and performing a mechanical retrofitting project at the Almeric Christian Federal Building and Courthouse on St. Croix.

“The defendant falsely inflated the cost of subcontracts P110089 ad P130106 beyond those actually incurred by RCT, in order to increase the profit on the subcontracts and cover the cost of kickbacks the defendant paid to B.P.,” the federal information says.

Patel, a project manager, has already pleaded guilty for his role in a scheme involving multiple subcontractors, in a case prosecuted in Vermont. One of the incidents cited in the Vermont case involved kickbacks paid for subcontractor work at the Ron deLugo Federal Building. The case brought against Taura does not implicate him in that instance.

If convicted at trial Taura faces a maximum penalty of a $5,000 fine and up to five years in prison.