Longtime City of Houston and Harris County vendor accused of multi-million dollar bribery scheme

Thursday, February 16, 2023
HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A longtime vendor for the City of Houston and Harris County is facing a federal charge in connection to an alleged multi-million dollar bribery scheme.

According to our partners at The Houston Chronicle, Sudhaker Kalaga and KIT Professionals - the engineering firm he founded - is no stranger to the city or county.

While Kalaga's current conspiracy charge only concerns his dealings in the private sector, records show his firm has carried out a high volume of public work for both the city and county.

From 2008 to 2022, the firm was awarded $109 million in city work, mostly as an engineering subcontractor but also as a prime contractor on several occasions.

In January, he stood in federal court accused of giving the manager of another company millions of dollars in kickbacks in exchange for lucrative construction and maintenance work contracts.

The charging document also accuses Kalaga of submitting fake bids from nonexistent construction companies to make his firm's bids appear lower.

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The alleged scheme continued for a decade, from 2010 to 2019, according to investigators. The charge was leveled in one count of criminal information, which does not involve a grand jury.

From 2007 to 2019, Kalaga and his wife, who's also associated with KIT, gave more than $93,000 in campaign contributions - mostly to mayoral candidates.

The county judge's office says they have no comment about Kalaga at this time. Neither does County Commissioner Adrian Garcia.

Commissioner Rodney Ellis' office says any contributions to his campaign from Kalaga or his wife will be donated to charity.

Mayor Sylvester Turner's Office issued this statement:

"The City takes these recent litigation results very seriously. The Office Of Business Opportunity (OBO) is aware and working to identify any current matters where KIT is a subcontractor, where Prime contractors can be expected to seek to have KIT removed. With this new information, the City is also in the process of checking to see whether there are any current direct contracts that may be affected, so each may be handled appropriately."
KIT sent the following statement:

"It is important to note that the charges are only against Sudhakar Kalaga and refer to acts that allegedly occurred more than three years ago. Sudhakar has stepped down from his leadership position and away from daily operations at KIT. While we cannot comment on legal matters impacting Sudhakar, we can say that KIT's leadership team, led by Dr. Sunil Kommineni, PE, BCEE is committed to the integrity and professionalism that has come to define KIT Professionals over the last 20+ years."

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SEE ALSO: Former Houston Health Department worker admits taking part in kickback scheme
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