Michael T. Murray, owner of Three R Construction Co. in Cincinnati, has pleaded guilty to bribery and failing to report that a U.S. Postal Service official was demanding payment in return for awarding construction contracts.
Other contractors alerted authorities to the scheme. When FBI and Postal Service investigators confronted Ashvin Shah, a construction project manager at the Postal Service’s Columbus office, he denied asking for kickbacks. He committed suicide a few hours later.
Under the law, citizens have a duty to report bribe demands to the appropriate authorities. They can face jail time if they fail to do so. A prison sentence is even more likely if they pay the bribe.
Murray paid Shah as much as $150,000 from 2005 to 2008. Three R Construction was awarded more than 90 contracts worth more than $10 million during the time Shah worked for the Postal Service.
Murray faces up to three years in prison plus $250,000 in fines. Three R Construction faces a $500,000 fine.
Note: Employers must have checks and balances in place to prevent unscrupulous employees from extorting contractors. Limit opportunities for abuse by establishing clear rules for awarding contracts. Have several people review all contract awards.
Additionally, you should set up clear avenues for those who learn of corruption and abuse to report it without fear of reprisal or retaliation.