Two charged in ongoing investigation into PennDOT corruption and fraud
The Attorney General’s Office is charging two men with conspiring to steal more than $3.6 million in taxpayer money through their affiliations with PennDOT.
These are the latest charges in an ongoing investigation into potential corruption and fraud involving PennDOT District 6, which includes Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties.
The Office of Attorney General began its investigation of possible illegal activity at PennDOT District 6 in March of 2013. Evidence and testimony regarding the case was presented to a statewide investigating grand jury, which recommended the criminal charges being filed today.
Contractor Thanh Nguyen, 62, 405 Ashton Drive, King of Prussia, Montgomery County, who has received $26 million in contracts for PennDOT maintenance since 2009, was charged today for allegedly stealing at least $3.6 million in public funds.
Robert Slamon, 54, 625 Governor Road, Shillington, Berks County, most recently a PennDOT consultant inspector for Czop Specter Inc. in Norristown, was also charged for his role in allegedly facilitating Nguyen’s scheme to defraud public funds intended to maintain state roads, bridges and tunnels.
“This is a clear case of illegal activity driven by greed,” Attorney General Kane said.
“The grand jury determined that this contractor, already being paid millions of dollars, stole millions more from Pennsylvania taxpayers — and found a state inspector whom he could bribe to help him do so,” she said. “As a result, work was not done and the safety of drivers in five southeastern Pennsylvania counties was put at risk.”
Nguyen controls and owns two business that contracted with PennDOT, V-Tech Services Inc. (V-Tech) and Utility Line Clearance Inc. (ULC). The Attorney General’s investigation uncovered that Nguyen allegedly stole at least $3.6 million in taxpayer funding directed to V-Tech and ULC through PennDOT District 6 contracts, including:
- $660,000 from allegedly double billing on herbicide contracts;
- $1.5 million billed and paid to his companies for herbicide chemicals allegedly never purchased or used for roadside spraying contracts for all five counties in District 6; and
- $1.1 million billed and paid to Nguyen’s companies for Philadelphia graffiti removal and street sweeping contracts where work was allegedly not performed.
Since 2009, V-Tech has received more than $15.7 million in District 6 contracts and ULC garnered more than $10.3 million in similar contracts. The combined $26 million included contracts for herbicide spraying, litter cleanup, mowing, landscaping, graffiti removal, tree removal and other services related to the maintenance of PennDOT roadways and bridges.
Nguyen is also accused of defrauding PennDOT by inflating work hours and the number of people working at various job sites, and billing for equipment and materials not purchased, rented or used. The presentment alleges these fraudulent activities included contracts for herbicide spraying, litter removal, landscaping and other services.
Nguyen’s alleged criminal activity was documented through GPS tracking records of his trucks, numerous photographs of state roads in the five-county area, a former employee’s private daily work journal and hours of grand jury testimony from PennDOT, V-Tech and ULC employees.
According to testimony presented to the grand jury, Nguyen also laundered money from PennDOT contracts by directing that company checks, including some as large as $50,000, be written in the name of employees, who were then directed to cash the checks and deliver the money to Nguyen.
As a PennDOT consultant inspector, Slamon was assigned to Philadelphia for roadside management programs. He is charged with conspiring with Nguyen to falsify PennDOT records and enable Nguyen to receive payment for work allegedly never completed. Slamon was observed receiving a $5,000 cash payment from Nguyen.
Kane thanked the Chief Counsel’s Office at PennDOT for their cooperation.
“Our investigation into corruption at PennDOT Region Six continues, and we expect to make additional arrests,” Attorney General Kane said. “We will work to bring to justice anyone who has defrauded the public and, in doing so, we can help restore public trust in PennDOT’s maintenance efforts in Southeastern Pennsylvania.”
Nguyen is charged with three counts each of theft by unlawful taking, theft by deception, and tampering with public records; two counts of corrupt organizations; and one count each of bribery in official and political matters, dealing in proceeds of unlawful activity, and criminal conspiracy. If convicted of all counts, he faces a statutory maximum of 150 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 plus restitution.
Slamon is charged with two counts each of corrupt organizations and tampering with public records; and one count each of bribery in official and political matters, theft by unlawful taking, theft by deception, and criminal conspiracy. If convicted of all counts, he faces a statutory maximum of 95 years in prison and a fine of $150,000.
Both Nguyen and Slamon are expected to be arraigned later today.
Today’s charges are the latest development in an on-going investigation into the actions of certain PennDOT officials, employees and contractors. Joseph DeSimone, also a contracted PennDOT inspector, was arrested in April and is facing perjury charges for allegedly lying to a grand jury in the course of the investigation.
Anyone with information regarding potential corruption in PennDOT District 6 is encouraged to call the Attorney General’s office in Norristown at 610-631-6208.