Source: United States Department of Justice
East St. Louis, Ill. – On Tuesday, May 17, 2022, a federal grand jury in East St. Louis returned a
nine- count indictment charging a former Aldi executive and a local general contractor with federal
fraud offenses relating to the construction of Aldi grocery stores throughout Southern Illinois and
Missouri. Former Aldi Regional Director of Real Estate, Louis Ross, 62, of Florissant, Missouri,
and the owner of C. Juengel Company, Donald Schniers, 71, of Breese, Illinois, were both charged
with one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, four counts of mail fraud, and four
counts of wire fraud.
Aldi Inc. operates a corporate chain of grocery stores with locations nationwide, including dozens
of stores within the Southern District of Illinois and the St. Louis metropolitan area. Ross served
as the Director of Real Estate for Aldi’s O’Fallon, Missouri, Division, which encompasses
the area. According to court documents, Schniers, through C. Juengel, provided general
contracting services to Aldi in connection with the construction and renovation of Aldi
stores in the O’Fallon, Missouri, Division.
Ross and Schniers are accused of conspiring to create the appearance of a competitive
bidding environment when one did not exist. The indictment alleges that Ross and Schniers submitted
fictitious bids in the names of other regional construction companies that were higher than C.
Juengel’s bids. Using these fictitious high bids from competing construction firms, Ross and
Schniers ensured that C. Juengel was the lowest bidder on the projects and was ultimately awarded
the contracts. The indictment further alleges that on at least one occasion, the Defendants altered
a legitimate bid submitted by one local construction company to increase the amount of the bid to
be higher than C. Juengel’s bid. On other occasions, the Defendants allegedly created and submitted
bids for other regional construction companies who had never bid on Aldi projects before.
According to the indictment, C. Juengel was awarded twelve contracts for general contractor
services between March 2016 and May 2017, as a result of the fraud – valued at over $21 million
dollars. Because of the lack of competition in the bidding process, Aldi allegedly overpaid for the
construction and renovation of stores in the O’Fallon, Missouri, Division.
“Individuals and companies who collude to thwart free market competition have a direct and negative
impact on communities and the American consumer,” said FBI Springfield Field Office Acting Special
Agent in Charge Joe Rodriguez. “Today’s indictment demonstrates the commitment of the FBI and our
partners to investigate anti-competitive behavior and hold accountable those who try to cheat the
system for their own benefit and profit.”
The indictment also charges that Schniers paid Ross monthly kickbacks in exchange for the receipt
of the Aldi contracts. Over a four-year period, Ross allegedly received $554,000 in kickbacks in
the form of checks drawn on C. Juengel’s bank account. In addition, the indictment
alleges that Ross also received thousands of dollars in kickbacks from another individual for
the exclusive right to serve as the civil engineer on all Aldi new construction and renovation
projects in the O’Fallon, Missouri, Division.
Ross and Schniers are scheduled to appear in federal court in East St. Louis for their arraignments
on June 10, 2022, at 9:30 a.m. and 10:00 a.m., respectively. Each of the counts in the indictment
carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years.
United States Attorney, Steven D. Weinhoeft of the Southern District of Illinois made
The investigation was conducted by the Springfield and St. Louis Field Offices of Federal Bureau of
Investigation, and the St. Louis Field Office of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Zoe J. Gross.
An indictment is merely a formal charge against a defendant. Under law, a defendant is
presumed to be innocent of a charge until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt to the
satisfaction of a jury.