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June 18, 2012

Attorney General, Iowa DOT Reach $145,000 Settlement with Iowa Concrete Company Convicted of Manipulating Market

(DES MOINES, Iowa)  An Orange City company that pleaded guilty to federal felony charges of conspiring to manipulate the ready-mix concrete market will pay the State of Iowa $145,000 in exchange for the state dropping a one-year ban on government business.

In May of 2011 GCC Alliance Concrete Inc. pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa to taking part in three separate conspiracies to fix prices and/or rig bids for the sales of ready-mix concrete.  In March of this year U.S. District Judge Mark Bennett sentenced GCC to 18 months’ probation and fined the company $100,000 for the three felony counts under the Sherman Act.

Under Iowa law, a contractor or supplier convicted of violating state or federal competition law is automatically disqualified from any work for a governmental agency for one year.  Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) rules allow the agency to disqualify a contractor for up to three years.

Under an agreement reached with the Iowa Attorney General and the Iowa DOT, the state withdraws the ban and releases the company from any future claims connected with the criminal case and a related class-action case.  GCC agrees to pay the state $145,000 and also agrees to provide anti-trust training to all Iowa employees who determine prices or participate in bids.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, GCC Alliance Concrete participated in conspiracies through its former sales manager, Steven VandeBrake, in which he engaged in discussions concerning project bids for ready-mix concrete sales, submitted rigged bids at collusive and noncompetitive prices to customers, and accepted payment for sales of ready-mix concrete at predetermined prices.  VandeBrake also engaged in discussions and reached agreements regarding the prices on the conspirators' annual price lists for ready-mix concrete.  VandeBrake pleaded guilty to participating in the conspiracies.  He is serving a four-year federal prison term and must pay an $829,715 criminal fine.

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