Thursday, 4:30 PM
Firm pleads guilty to fraud for supplying bad concrete for Big Dig
By Sean P. Murphy and Andrew Ryan, Globe Staff
A federal judge accepted a guilty plea today from Aggregate Industries NE Inc. for supplying 5,700 truckloads of substandard concrete on the Big Dig as part of a settlement in a fraud case that will cost the company $50 million.
Roberto Huet, president of Aggregate, the region's largest concrete supplier, stood in US District Court in Boston and agreed to the terms, which will help create an endowment to fund future repairs of the Big Dig. Judge Joseph L. Tauro asked Huet how the company would plead.
"Guilty," Huet said.
Fred M. Wyshak Jr., the federal prosecutor who headed the investigation, explained that "the policy of Aggregate was to provide concrete for the Big Dig that did not meet contract specifications."
"Leftover concrete on some occasions was mixed with new concrete and used on the Big Dig," Wyshak said in court. "On other occasions, entire truckloads of concrete rejected as too old or having too much water was used."
To hide the use of bad concrete, Aggregate officials falsified company records, writing up bogus batch tickets, Wyshak said.
Aggregate -- which was paid $105 million for its work on the Big Dig, including about $4.5 million for the substandard concrete -- agreed to pay $42 million to settle a civil investigation and $8 million in criminal fines.
US Attorney Michael J. Sullivan and Attorney General Martha Coakley have said they want $27 million of the settlement to be used as a first-of-its-kind endowment to pay for future maintenance and repairs on the long-troubled highway-and-tunnel project.