Two Bay Area contractors were convicted by a federal jury in San Francisco Wednesday of conspiring in a plot to rig bids for renovating a
building at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
Clifton Burch, 50, of San Lorenzo, president of Empire Engineering and Construction Inc., and Peter McKean, 49, of San Mateo, vice president of Townsend Management Inc., were each convicted of conspiring to defraud the U.S. government and conspiring to commit mail and wire fraud.
They will be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer on June 19 and could face a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison.
Prosecutors said Burch, McKean and a third contractor agreed to submit bids ranging from $6.2 million to $7.1 million in 2013 so that another supposed contractor, who was actually an undercover FBI agent, could win the U.S. Department of Energy contract with a lower bid.
The probe grew out of a case in which Chinatown tong leader Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow was convicted of murder and racketeering and former
state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco-San Mateo, and fundraiser Keith Jackson pleaded guilty to a corruption charge.
The same undercover agent posed as a businessman in the Chow case.
The third contractor, Anton Kalafati, 34, of San Francisco, President of B Side Inc., pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge last year.
Business consultant Derf Butler, 54, of Vallejo, pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy and lying to FBI investigators. U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesman Abraham Simmons said Butler orchestrated the phony bids and admitted to receiving $15,000 from the undercover agent.
Simmons said Burch and McKean expected to get payment and work after the supposed low-bid contractor would win the job.
-Julia Cheever, Bay City News
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