An Ecuadorian contractor testified to “playing the minority card” to illegally secure government contracts reserved for minorities and women in federal court Wednesday.
Johnny Garcia listed his name and company, Solera Construction, on New York and New Jersey Port Authority applications for work on 1 World Trade Center. In a hearing before the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Garcia told prosectors, “I basically did nothing,” according to the New York Post.
Garcia worked in tandem with DCM Erectors, Inc. CEO Larry Davis, whose business did the lion’s share of the work. Davis received the majority of the revenues but kicked $200 million to Garcia in exchange for fraudulently obtaining the contract.
The contract, which was predominantly steel work on 1 WTC, was originally worth $600 million but eventually shot up to $1 billion.
Davis similarly used the services of his female employee Gale D’Aloia to create the bogus firm GLS Enterprises that would gather contracts reserved for female-led operations.
The group took advantage of the Business Development Program run by the federal Small Business Administration. This program assists businesses that are owned by “socially and economically disadvantaged individuals” by granting them loans and exclusive access to government contracts, surplus government property and supplies.
The end goal of the program is to allow minority-led businesses “to thrive in a competitive business environment.”
The three fraudsters were charged in 2014. Garcia and D’Aloia are testifying against Davis and will plead guilty, while Davis rejected a deal and will stand trial.
If convicted, Davis could face up to 20 years in prison.
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