In Colorado Convention Center settlement, Trammell Crow must pay $250,000, tell students why rigging construction contracts is bad

The attorney general put a period on its civil and criminal disputes with the company.
3 min. read
The Colorado Convention Center seen from atop the Le Meridien Hotel on California Street. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Trammell Crow, the project manager of a $233 million expansion of the Colorado Convention Center, must pay a $250,000 settlement and make some corporate governance improvements for its role in a scheme to rig the bidding process for lucrative contracts.

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser's office announced the cash settlement Wednesday, stating in a press release that it "fully resolves all civil and criminal disputes between the Office of the Attorney General and Trammell Crow."

Michael Sullivan, a former employee of Trammell Crow, "improperly" asked employees from construction company Mortenson for confidential information about the project's design and interview questions, the attorney general's press release states. Mortenson provided the information, which was not shared with other bidders, compromising the fairness of the bidding process and violating the Colorado Antitrust Act, the state found after an investigation lasting more than a year.

"The actions of Trammell Crow's former employee, Michael Sullivan, substantially undermined the integrity of the city's procurement process at a significant cost to the city and Colorado residents," Weiser said in a statement. "By sharing confidential information related to the convention center expansion with Mortenson, Sullivan sought to personally benefit from Mortenson's assistance, which gave Mortenson an unfair advantage over its competitors."

Mortenson earlier this month agreed to pay the state $1.3 million, which includes $650,000 in construction services for a yet-to-be-named project related to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Trammell Crow must establish a "comprehensive" system to ensure compliance with the law and send all complaints to the attorney general under the settlement. The company must also disclose the agreement to any public entity trying to hire it.

Under the agreement, the company has to give three presentations over the next three years to students at the University of Colorado Leeds School of Business, Colorado State University School of Construction Management or an event sponsored by the Colorado Association of General Contractors to share what the company learned about ethics and compliance.

The city of Denver stood to gain almost $50 million more annually from tourism and corporate business related to the expansion, according to a 2014 feasibility study. But the scandal delayed the project as the city had to start the process over.

"The Colorado Convention Center is one of our most important public assets and the center point of one our most critical industries," Mayor Michael Hancock said in a statement. "When we look to improve these public assets, the integrity of the city's procurement process is vital, and my administration and the people of Denver have an expectation that we conduct this business in a way that upholds the public's trust and benefits our residents and our community."

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