New details emerge on FBI raid at Pennsylvania Turnpike - second source confirms
By Peter Samuel
Bob Dietz, 55 of Lancaster PA, construction supervisor for a Turnpike widening project near Valley Forge says we can quote him as saying the FBI were at the Turnpike's head offices in Harrisburg Thursday afternoon and that they went away with computers and other materials. He says that as a supervisor on different Turnpike projects he personally has been interviewed multiple times by the FBI as part of a major USDOJ investigation of corruption at the Turnpike. The investigation has been going on for some months.
Dietz says he has been providing the FBI with details of corruption in connection with a $170m six lane widening in the Valley Forge area. The job was originally bid at $90m, Dietz says.
The project, shown on a map nearby, and known as the "Valley Forge 6-lane widening" ran from 2004 to 2008. It involved 11km (7 miles) of third laning between mileposts 326 Valley Forge and MP333 Norristown.
A press release at the groundbreaking Oct 14 2004 described the project as being $181m total cost, while a statement issued by the Commission celebrating the completion of the project Dec 3 2008 said it cost $330m - an 82% increase in cost during construction. These likely are full project costs as compared to only construction cost cited by Dietz. (ADDITION 2009-10-29 16:20)
Dietz was NOT our source for the initial report we ran this morning, who we won't disclose.
Dietz only contacted us after we ran the report this morning, which named no particular project as the subject of the investigation.
He confirms there was an FBI raid, which he says involved an FBI Special Agent, he knew, Stephen Gray. He says it was Thursday afternoon. He does not know if the FBI agents were there Friday, as our first informant says.
Dietz says it was chance that he happened to be at the Harrisburg offices. He says he saw the FBI people there and he knew Special Agent Gray from previous interviews in the investigation. Dietz is finishing up work at a Carlisle bridge project - which he says is clean - on the Turnpike this week.
Dietz says the Valley Forge widening project saw large quantities of defective concrete delivered to the job, drainage pipes left unconnected, and other completely unacceptable construction practices. He says project managers working for the Turnpike ordered that inspection reports be suppressed. He thinks they were being paid off by a corrupt contractor.
"This is a big mess. People are going to jail I'm sure," Dietz tells us.
Our original source says that the raiding officers Thursday and Friday had "badges" which the source said were FBI badges.
Turnpike Commission denies, then confirms, and says "We called the cops..."
Early today after our initial report ran the Turnpike Commission said it was completely baseless. It was a total fabrication, never happened, the FBI were never there. Not on Thursday, not on Friday. We should pull the story.
That was this morning.
After the followup with Bob Dietz appeared in the afternoon the Turnpike did a PR somersault and conceded that the FBI had been there at the Harrisburg offices, after all. But only because the Turnpike called 'em in.
Oh yeah!?! They'd have got a better hearing for that line if they'd pitched it first up in the morning, instead of first trying the "total fabrication" denial. Anyway it's implausible. The MP326-333 project ran from about 2003 to 2008. Now in late 2009 they suddenly discover the scandal from those years and call the cops?
A Turnpike spokesman also told other reporters in the afternoon that TOLLROADSnews was wrong in describing the object of the FBI probe.
But our first report didn't name any object of the probe.
Our first source didn't know and neither did we, and we didn't report any.
Our first report wasn't wrong on that score, just incomplete.
Our reporting is likely still incomplete. If we waited to write until we had the complete story, we'd wait forever, and there would be no reporting at all of stories like this.
COMMENT: Our use of the term "raid" was an overstatement if it conjured up images of the Feds battering down locked doors, rushing in, and ordering people to put their hands above their heads. There was none of that made-for-TV kind of drama.
Yet the term "visit" is a bit wimpy when the "visitors" are most unwelcome, when they get access to a lot of your very sensitive records, and leave with a lot of data that could put you in jail. One suggestion is that the raid/visit is best described as a "search and seizure."
TOLLROADSnews 2009-10-28 15:00 and 22:00