Contractor billed NYS DOT for $1.9 million of materials never purchased

Nathaniel Lorenz, who owns ACME Powerwashing, Inc., is accused of submitting falsified invoices to the DOT to hide that he was not buying the chemicals needed to fulfill the contracts. (Photo: MGN Online)

Albany/Holley, N.Y. (WHAM) - A contractor from Orleans County was arraigned Thursday after he was accused of submitting $1.9 million in false invoices to the New York State Department of Transportation for materials he never purchased.

Nathaniel Lorenz, 46, owns ACME Powerwashing, Inc. in Holley. Lorenz signed three contracts with the DOT in 2015 and 2016 to clean and seal the concrete bridge decks of various bridges in New York. ACME was hired to power wash bridge decks with water, then seal them with a chemical that makes the concrete more resistant to penetration by water, chlorides and waterborne contaminants that could deteriorate the bridge deck.

As part of the contract, ACME was required to purchase a specific amount of sealing chemical based on the length and width of the concrete being sealed on the bridge deck. On the three contracts signed in 2015 and 2016, prosecutors said Lorenz falsely claimed he was buying the sealing chemicals from S.E. Brett, Inc., another company he owned that does not sell anything.

Lorenz is accused of submitting falsified invoices to the DOT to hide that he was not buying the chemicals needed to fulfill the contracts.

On these three contracts alone, NYSDOT paid ACME a total of $1,139,119.74 for bridge sealing work, and an additional $759,002.64 for bridge washing and other work. The Federal Highway Administration provided most of the money for these contracts. ACME has been a NYSDOT contractor since 2010.

Lorenz is charged with eight counts of wire fraud and one count of mail fraud. He was arraigned on the charges and released pending a trial in federal court in Syracuse. If convicted, Lorenz faces up to 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and three years of post-imprisonment supervised release. Restitution could also be part of the sentencing.

The U.S. DOT Office of the Inspector General is investigating the case along with the NYSDOT Investigations Bureau, and the Office of the New York State Inspector General.

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