On June 3, 2016, Joseph Lampignano, the Vice President and 40% owner of A. Lamp Road Builders, pled guilty to federal criminal charges alleging he devised a scheme to defraud employees of hundreds of thousands of dollars and that he executed the scheme using the U.S. mails. That same day, John Traversa, A. Lamp’s general superintendent of field operations, plead guilty to making material false statements to federal law enforcement officials regarding one aspect of the scheme.

On July 25, Evanston City Council granted A. Lamp a nearly $400,000 contract for the Community Development Block Grant alley paving and SNAP lighting project. On Aug. 25, Council voted to approve another $991,000 parking lot improvement contract with A. Lamp, as well as an over $1.2 million alley paving contract.

The federal criminal charges were filed against Mssrs. Lampignano and Traversa in May 2016. In his plea agreement, Mr. Lampignano admits that he failed to pay union wages to certain employees and that he devised a scheme to falsify payroll records and to submit false reports to the unions’ pension funds to make it appear that the employees were being paid union wages.

 To settle a civil lawsuit in April 2013, A. Lamp “agreed to pay a total of approximately $545,357  for unpaid wages owed to twenty-four laborers under the terms of the collective bargaining agreements,” per Mr. Lampignano’s guilty plea.

One aspect of Mr. Lampignano’s guilty plea also admits that after the settlement of the civil case, “Mr. Lampignano and Mr. Traversa approached certain laborers and asked them to repay a portion of the settlement money they had received. …Lampignano, Traversa and others used their positions of power and authority to induce certain laborers to pay kickbacks, in cash, in amounts totaling at least $64,000,” 

Sentencing will occur at some point in October.

Since 2013, the City of Evanston has awarded A. Lamp more than $31 million in road, alley, sidewalk and other contracts. A. Lamp is consistently one of the lowest, if not the lowest, bidder on City contracts, including the April 2016 award of the $11.17 million Green Bay-Emerson intersection project.

While some at the City admitted to knowing vaguely of A. Lamp’s troubles, Alderman Don Wilson said they were not aware of the guilty pleas. As for future A. Lamp contracts, “I expect we will be looking at them more closely,” he said. 

Asked to comment, Alderman Brian Miller, 9th Ward, said, “This is one of many reasons why we need to overhaul our procurement process.”

In an email received after the print edition had gone to press, Corporation Counsel Grant Farrar said the City “was aware of the Information [accusation by a public prosecutor without the intervention of a grand jury] filed by the U.S. attorney’s office” prior to the Aug. 15 City Council meeting. “The City reviewed the Information filed by the U.S. Attorney, which confirmed the City of Evanston was not named in the Information, nor referenced in any matters asserted therein.”