A construction company lied to the federal government to get a $39 million subcontract on a New Jersey road project, authorities said Friday.
C. Abbonizio Contractors Inc., based in Sewell, “defrauded the government by claiming to use disadvantaged entities” when, in fact, it didn’t, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito said.
Companies must use disadvantaged business entities (DBE) for a specified percentage of the work in order to secure federal contracts for New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) projects, Carpenito said.
Abbonizio Contractors obtained a $39 million subcontract from PKF Mark III, the prime contractor on the Direct Connection Project, a federally funded reconfiguration of the interchanges of Routes I-295, I-76, and Route 42 in Bellmawr, Mt. Ephraim and Gloucester City in Camden County, the U.S. attorney said.
The roads had been considered one of the most congested in New Jersey, with a high rate of crashes, prior to the project.
PKF Mark III was required to perform 15 percent of the work with DBE contractors, which Abbonizio Contractors assumed as part of its subcontract, Carpenito said.
Abbonizio Contractors and its president, Peter Abbonizio, concocted a scheme to have DBEs invoice work done by other companies, the U.S. attorney said, in announcing a lawsuit filed against them by the U.S. Justice Department.
Carpenito credited special agents of the U.S. Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General and agents of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Office of the Inspector General with the investigation leading to the civil fraud suit.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark C. Orlowski of Carpenito’s Government Fraud Unit in Newark is handling the suit for the government.
NOTE: The project is in no way, shape or form connected to the NJ Turnpike, as incorrectly reported in the original story.
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