Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Over 100 Schools Victimized in Bid-Rigging Scheme

 The Justice Department issued the following statement. 

A former sales employee of a manufacturer and distributor of football helmets and other sports equipment pleaded guilty today for his role in three separate conspiracies — two conspiracies to rig bids in violation of the Sherman Act and one conspiracy to commit wire fraud — all related to sports equipment for schools located in Mississippi and elsewhere. At least 100 schools throughout Mississippi and elsewhere were victims of these conspiracies.

According to court documents, Charles Ferrell Trimm conspired with two unnamed sports equipment distributors and numerous individuals to rig bids from August 2020 through November 2022 and from May 2021 to February 2023, respectively. Trimm and his co-conspirators agreed to submit complementary bids to schools located in Mississippi and elsewhere in order to obtain procurements for school sports equipment and related services. Trimm also conspired with unnamed co-conspirators to commit wire fraud by submitting false bids to schools located in Mississippi and elsewhere from May 2016 to July 2023. As a part of this scheme, Trimm and others used an unidentified individual’s identity without authorization, including by forging the individual’s signature.

“The charged criminal schemes harmed public schools by subverting their procurement processes and providing the false appearance of competition for precious taxpayer dollars,” said Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division. “The Antitrust Division and its partners will continue to protect taxpayers and students across the country by stopping bid rigging and fraud that targets government procurements wherever we find it, including at the state and local levels.”

“The conspirators took advantage of schools in Mississippi by rigging bids to affect the prices schools paid for sports equipment,” said U.S. Attorney Todd Gee for the Southern District of Mississippi. “The Justice Department is committed to prosecuting these types of anti-competitive practices and ensuring that schools and other buyers can obtain goods and services from a fair and open marketplace.”

“Charles Trimm and his co-conspirators’ actions fraudulently deprived public schools of valuable resources to support students,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Rebecca Day of the FBI Jackson Field Office. “The FBI is committed to working with our partners to hold individuals like Trimm accountable for their actions.”

If convicted, for the Sherman Act violation, Trimm faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1 million criminal fine. The fine may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by the victims of the crime. If convicted of the fraud charge, Trimm faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, a criminal fine and court-ordered restitution. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The Antitrust Division’s Washington Criminal Section and the FBI investigated this case as part of an ongoing federal antitrust investigation into bid rigging and other anticompetitive conduct in the school sports equipment industry.

Trial Attorneys Jill Rogowski, Laura Butte, Marc Hedrich and Evan Binder of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division prosecuted the case.

In November 2019, the Justice Department created the Procurement Collusion Strike Force (PCSF), a joint law enforcement effort to combat antitrust crimes and related fraudulent schemes that impact government procurement, grant and program funding at all levels of government – federal, state and local. To learn more about the PCSF, or to report information on bid rigging, price fixing, market allocation and other anticompetitive conduct related to government spending, go to www.justice.gov/procurement-collusion-strike-force.


Anonymous said...

3,2,1 Shad gonna release news about a cafeteria worker falsifying a time sheet for $105.

Anonymous said...

Why do they only go after small fish?

Anonymous said...

The press release says he pleaded guilty, but sentencing language says "if convicted..." Should we expect more indictments? It looks like the guy may have just waived indictment and pleaded to information.

Anonymous said...

Why are the Feds more worried about this than the DHS case?

Anonymous said...

Hoe much illicit $ did this fraudulent conduct generate?

Anonymous said...

to bad the feds won't do anything about rigging insurance rates and the entire industry black balling a consumer simply because he filed a claim.

the insurance industry has basically replaced the gambino and columbo crime families .

Anonymous said...

Feds need to back off on this one. If this were keyboards for some keyboarding class or books for just another math class, sure, go after the conspiring malefactors. But this is important; this is football. Why can't the feds back off and find some racism or antisemitism to go after?

Anonymous said...

always remember, insurance companies do not compete with one- another.

they work together to keep rates as high as possible. and no state legislature or the congress will address the problem.

Anonymous said...

Why are the Feds more worried about this than the DHS case?

Way bigger case, it will take longer to reel in all of the conspirators

and a case of that magnitude, it has to be airtight

Ben Dover Taxpayers said...

Mississippi purchasing and contract agents are such ignorant chumps, including Madison County.

Mississippi is in fact #1 - as a target rich environment for grifters.

Anonymous said...

@9:34 couldn't be more correct. Insurance is the biggest scam ever perpetuated on mankind.

Anonymous said...

9:34 am You are right. It's worse since the Alabama /MS BC/BS merger.
Mississippi declares we are too small of a market to attract competitors. That is NOT true for veterans and their children who also can't get USAA except for home,auto and life insurance. Our premiums are nearly half what Mississippians pay for the same coverage.

And,I certainly hope the co-conspirators are next up to be charged and are sweating.

Anonymous said...

The Mississippi AG's office used to have anti-trust lawyers.

Do we no longer have that capability under Lynn Fitch?

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