Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of North Carolina
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, March 2, 2016
Manufacturer Of Defective North Carolina Bridge Parts Pleads Guilty To Conspiracy And Perjury
RALEIGH – The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina announces that SANTIAGO DE LA TORRE, 45, of Joliet, Illinois, pleaded guilty today to Counts One and Seventeen of the indictment, which charge him with Conspiracy to Make False Statements Concerning Highway Projects, and Perjury.
The indictment alleged that SANTIAGO DE LA TORRE and his brother, Joel De La Torre, residents of Illinois, opened a business called Delgado Elastomeric Bearings Corporation (DEBC). Through DEBC, the defendant and his brother manufactured and sold elastomeric bridge bearings, which are effectively shock absorbers for bridges. The defendant and his brother sold the bearings for use by multiple North Carolina highway contractors on numerous bridges in the state.
Joel De La Torre previously pled guilty on April 16, 2015 to one count of Making False Statements Concerning Highway Projects and Aggravated Identity Theft; aiding and abetting.
The indictment alleges that between 2009 and October of 2011, SANTIAGO DE LA TORRE and Joel De La Torre carried out a scheme to manufacture and sell bridge bearings on federal and state highway contracts in North Carolina as though an individual, identified as “A.D.,” was a vice president of DEBC with knowledge of the company’s operations. In fact, A.D. was a minor who was paid a wage by SANTIAGO DE LA TORRE and Joel De La Torre. A.D. had no knowledge or training in how to manufacture Bridge Bearings. A.D. was not, to his knowledge, a vice president of DEBC. The indictment further alleged that the defendant and his brother forged an application with the State of North Carolina to be able to supply bridge bearings on highway projects within the state.
The indictment further alleged that with each shipment of bridge bearings, SANTIAGO DE LA TORRE and his brother falsified various documents concerning the quality and testing of the bridge bearings. The indictment alleged that the certifications were false and fraudulent for various reasons, including the fact that SANTIAGO DE LA TORRE and Joel De La Torre fabricated the test results listed in the certifications.
The indictment further alleges that federal and state construction contractors received and relied upon the false and fraudulent certifications.
With respect to the count of perjury, the indictment alleges that SANTIAGO DE LA TORRE lied to the federal grand jury sitting in this District. At that time, the grand jury was engaged in an investigation concerning who created the false certifications.
The maximum punishment for the count of Conspiracy to Make False Statements Concerning Highway Projects, and the count of Perjury, is up to five years in prison for each count, a $250,000.00 fine for each count, and 3 years of supervised release.
The investigation of this case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Department of Transportation, Office of the Inspector General. Assistant United States Attorney William M. Gilmore represents the United States.