Miami execs plead guilty in Trinidad bid-rigging case
Two Miami business executives pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court Monday to fraud charges related to construction work at the Port of Spain, Trinidad airport.
The Miami Herald reported that Raul J. Gutierrez, Jr., president and director of Calmaquip Engineering, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud for his involvement in fixing airport bidding so that his company could overcharge for the construction work.
He also pleaded guilty to a bank fraud charge for 'loan kiting.' The report said he used money from a loan from a Miami bank to pay off other loans, although he had claimed the loan was to finance pre-export cost for equipment.
Eduardo Hillman-Waller, an architect from the firm Birk Hillman, also pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud. His firm had won the contract to oversee airport construction, and then directed business to Calmaquip. Hillman-Waller also funneled money to himself by setting up offshore subcontractors for airport work'something that was prohibited in the contract'the report said.
Gutierrez and Hillman-Waller were the last of six U.S.-based defendants to plead guilty to charges in a November 2005 indictment on wire fraud, bank fraud, and money laundering in connection with construction work at the airport, which took place between 1996 and 2001, when the work was completed, the report said.
The pleas were part of a plea agreement under which Gutierrez agreed to a money judgment of $22.6 million that will go to the government of Trinidad & Tobago. He also faces up to six-and-a-half years in prison and fines totaling $1.25 million.
Hillman-Waller agreed to pay $2 million in restitution to Trinidad & Tobago. He could also face up to five years in prison.
Sentencing has been set for January 16.