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Date: 06-20-2023

Case Style:

United States of America v. Dennis Ferreira

Case Number:

Judge: John J. McConnell, Jr.

Court: United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island (Providence County)

Plaintiff's Attorney: United States Attorney’s Office in Providence

Defendant's Attorney:

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Description: Providence, Rhode Island criminal defense lawyer represented Defendant charged with intentionally misleading officials as to the origin and the potential contaminant composition of dozens of truckloads of railroad ballast (stone) and dirt imported for a project.

Dennis Ferreira, a former employee of Barletta Heavy Division, Inc., a Massachusetts construction company responsible for the construction of the Route 6/10 Interchange Project, previously admitted to a federal judge that, in July 2020, he falsely reported to the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) the origin of 93 truckloads of railroad ballast imported to the 6/10 Project from Massachusetts; 52 truckloads of dirt imported to the 6/10 Project from the Pawtucket/Central Falls Rail Station Project Barletta was undertaking; and that he was responsible for a false report submitted to RIDOT by Barletta stating that the stone imported from Massachusetts had been tested and met environmental criteria as required in a Soil and Materials Management Plan (SMMP) prepared by RIDOT.

According to documents filed with the court, Ferreira repeatedly mislead RIDOT and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) into believing that stone imported from Massachusetts to the 6/10 Project had been tested and met established environmental criteria when, in fact, the stone had not been tested. Ferreira submitted to RIDOT an environmental report addressing an entirely different stockpile of stone. As truckloads of stone continued to be sent to the 6/10 Project, testing showed that, in fact, the stone did not meet established environmental standards. Ferreira suggested to a co-worker to wash the ballast before taking another sample and then retest it; take a known clean sample and pretend it was the ballast he had imported; or change the test results to show the material was useable. The employee refused to take any of these actions.

Additionally, in July 2020, as work by Barletta was beginning on the Pawtucket Commuter Bus Hub and Commuter Rail Station, Ferreira sent a crew to the Pawtucket project to clear shrubs, demolish concrete, and install fencing. Despite being aware that removal of dirt was not permitted pursuant to a Construction Soils Management Plan established for the project, Ferreira instructed the workers to remove several feet of soil and transport it to the 6/10 Project. It was later learned that 52 truckloads of soil were removed from the site, and that 6 loads, or approximately 265 cubic yards, were direct dumped at two locations at the 6/10 Project. Ferreira caused false statements to be made to RIDOT regarding the movement of the soil, and at one point told a RIDOT inspector, “I can do whatever I want.”

Ferreira pleaded guilty on December 14, 2022, to three counts of making a false statement in connection with a federally funded highway project. He was sentenced today by U.S. District Court Chief Judge John J. McConnell, Jr., to one year probation and ordered to pay a fine of $40,000.

The majority of the material Ferreira caused to be brought to the 6/10 Project is beneath the roadways and RIDOT, in consultation with RIDEM, has not asked for further remediation at the site.

The United States separately entered into a Non-Prosecution Agreement with Barletta in connection with the false statements that were made to the Federal Highway Administration and RIDOT. These statements were meant to conceal the fact that Barletta had imported regulated material in violation of the SMMP, which was part of the contract governing the 6/10 Project. Under the Agreement, Barletta accepted responsibility for the actions of its employees and admitted to the facts that constitute making false statements in connection with a federally funded highway project. In addition to paying a $500,000 criminal fine, the agreement required Barletta to implement ongoing monitoring, reporting, and compliance measures for a period of three years; failure to comply with these conditions will make the company subject to prosecution for the conduct set forth in an agreed-upon Statement of Facts.

Additionally, Barletta has entered into a False Claims Act settlement that resolved allegations that the company knowingly submitted claims for payment for work on the project in connection with the movement of dirt that did not comply with contract requirements, in violation of the federal and Rhode Island state False Claims Acts. Barletta paid $1,000,000 to the government, representing more than twice the government funds paid as a result of the relevant claims.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Dulce Donovan and Bethany Wong handled the prosecution and litigation of these matters.

Outcome: Defendant was sentenced to one year probation and ordered to pay a fine of $40,000.

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