United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner
Eastern District of California
July 29, 2010
Trio Charged with Defrauding Caltrans
Scheme Alleges Bribes, Bid Rigging, and Contracting Fraud
SACRAMENTO, Calif.— United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner and FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Drew Parenti announced that a federal grand jury indicted Clint Gregory, 48, of Sacramento, Siavash “Mike” Poursartip, 56, and Sara Shirazi, 52, both of Walnut Creek, today, charging them with bribery, bid rigging, and fraud in connection with contracts issued by the California Department of Transportation. As a result of this fraud, Caltrans is alleged to have incurred a loss of more than $1.2 million. Caltrans receives more than $2 billion in federal funds annually.
This case is the product of a joint investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office with assistance from Caltrans. Assistant United States Attorney Robin R. Taylor is prosecuting the case.
According to the indictment, Gregory was a Senior Transportation Engineer Supervisor for Caltrans District 10 in Stockton. Poursartip and Shirazi operated a company known as Infotek Associates, a California Corporation. Poursartip and Shirazi offered, and Gregory accepted, bribes of money, a Persian rug, a cellular telephone, and other gifts in exchange for being awarded “Minor B” contracts by Caltrans. “Minor B” contracts were those used by Caltrans for projects valued at less than $131,000. Gregory deposited the bribe payments into bank accounts held in the names of business entities he controlled.
The indictment also alleges that the defendants circumvented Caltrans’ competitive bidding process that requires bids from at least two certified vendors before awarding Minor B contracts. Poursartip, Shirazi, Gregory, and others, arranged for third party companies to submit straw bids for Minor B contracts, on which Infotek was bidding. Then they set the bid amount of the straw bids, and Infotek’s bids, to predetermine the “winners.” The straw companies, who performed no work, were paid a commission for their assistance, and this arrangement was not disclosed to Caltrans.
It is alleged that Poursartip submitted false and misleading invoices to Caltrans regarding the work that Infotek and the straw companies performed, and Gregory used his authority at Caltrans to approve payment of these invoices. On one occasion, Gregory requested that Infotek provide him with a fictitious invoice to conceal an unauthorized purchase of airplane parts he made using a Caltrans credit card. Shirazi prepared the invoice that Gregory submitted for reimbursement.
If convicted, the defendants face up to 20 years in prison for the mail fraud offense, up to 10 years in prison for the theft and bribery offenses, up to five years in prison for the conspiracy charge, mandatory restitution, and fines up to twice the value of the victim’s losses. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory sentencing factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.
The charges are only allegations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This law enforcement action is part of the work being done by President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. President Obama established the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes. One component of the FFETF is the national Mortgage Fraud Working Group, cochaired by U.S. Attorney Wagner. For more information on the task force, visit StopFraud.gov.