Third guilty plea in US muni contract probe

Mon Mar 15, 2010 3:41pm EDT

* Third guilty plea in muni bid-rigging case

* Trial for top executives is February next year

WASHINGTON, March 15 (Reuters) - A third former employee of CDR Financial Products pleaded guilty on Monday to bid-rigging, fraud conspiracies and wire fraud that has been the subject of a nearly four-year federal probe into contracts to invest municipal monies, the Justice Department said.

The former employee, Douglas Goldberg, pleaded guilty to the three counts at the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, the U.S. Justice Department said.

Another CDR employee, Daniel Naeh, pleaded guilty to the same three charges in February and a third, Matthew Rothman, last week.

All three men have agreed to cooperate with investigations by the Treasury and Justice Departments and the Internal Revenue Service, which began in 2006.

The probe is looking at whether CDR and other companies rigged bids on contracts that cities and counties buy to invest money raised in bond issues. Often, there is a delay between when bonds are floated and when the money is actually paid out, allowing some time to invest it.

In October, executives from CDR, which is also known as Rubin/Chambers, Dunhill Insurance Services Inc, were indicted and charged with participating in bid-rigging and fraud. Their trial has been set for Feb. 7, 2011.

CDR, which is based in Los Angeles, has said the charges are without merit.

The Justice Department said that Goldberg admitted to participating in the bid-rigging from at least as early as 1998 to at least November 2006.

The maximum penalty for bid-rigging is 10 years in prison and a $1 million fine. The fraud charges come with a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The wire fraud charge has a maximum 20 years and a $250,000 fine.

(Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Bernard Orr)