By Mary Thurwachter
A Lantana contractor is among four men indicted for their alleged roles in fraudulently obtaining a multimillion-dollar construction contract from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs.
Also indicted were Kevin Kutina, 61, of Ramona, California, Roberto Gonzalez, 58, of Palmetto Bay, and William Gonzalez, 51, of Orlando.
The four were charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, substantive counts of wire fraud, and major fraud against the United States.
West Construction did not respond to a request for comment. Earlier this year, in work unrelated to the case, West completed a job remodeling Lantana’s Town Library.
According to the indictment issued by U.S. Attorney Roger B. Handberg, the VA issued a request for bids in July 2016 for a contract to build the Cancer Infusion Therapy Center at Bay Pines in Pinellas County. The contract, valued between $5 million and $10 million, was for construction of a 14,909-square-foot building to augment the VA medical center’s existing radiation oncology clinic. The contract was set aside for small businesses owned by service-disabled veterans and required bids from qualified businesses.
The indictment claims that the conspirators used Maxon Groupe, LLC, a company owned by service-disabled veteran Roberto Gonzalez and William Gonzalez, to submit a bid containing false statements and omissions. That led the VA to award the contract to Maxon, the indictment said.
The conspirators falsely represented that qualified employees from Kevcon, Inc., owned and operated by Kutina, would serve in supervisory roles, the indictment said.
The conspirators also failed to disclose to the VA contracting officials that Maxon was a pass-through for West’s company, which managed the work for the contract and received most of the payment, the indictment said.
West Construction was not eligible for the VA’s disabled veterans set-aside contract.
The indictment alleges that between March 2017 and January 2019, the conspirators submitted multiple invoices for payment, with the U.S. Treasury paying Maxon approximately $4.8 million. During the same time, the conspirators transferred approximately $4.2 million of that money to West, and in turn, West transferred approximately $1.1 million to Kevcon, the indictment said.
If convicted, the defendants face a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison on each of the conspiracy and wire fraud counts, and a maximum of 10 years behind bars on the major fraud count against the United States.