East St. Louis, Illinois – On Tuesday, May 17, 2022, a federal grand jury in East St. Louis returned a
nine-count indictment accusing a former Aldi executive and a local general contractor of
fraud offenses related to the construction of Aldi grocery stores in southern Illinois and
Missouri. Former regional real estate manager of Aldi, Louis Ross, 62, of Florissant, Missouri,
and C. Juengel Company owner 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 chain of corporate grocery stores with locations across the country, including dozens
of stores in the Southern District of Illinois and the St. Louis metropolitan area. Ross served
as Director of Real Estate for Aldi’s O’Fallon, Missouri, Division, which encompasses
The area. According to court documents, Schniers, through C. Juengel, provided background information
subcontracting of services to Aldi in connection with the construction and renovation of Aldi
stores in O’Fallon Division, Missouri.
Ross and Schniers are accused of conspiring to create the appearance of a competitor
bidding environment when none existed. The indictment alleges that Ross and Schniers submitted
fictitious offers on behalf of other regional construction companies superior to C.
The offers of Jugel. Using these fictitious high bids from competing construction companies, Ross and
Schniers ensured that C. Juengel was the lowest bidder on the projects and was eventually awarded
the contracts. The indictment further alleges that on at least one occasion, the defendants altered
a legitimate bid submitted by a local construction company to increase the bid amount to
be superior to C. Jugel’s offer. On other occasions, the defendants allegedly created and submitted
bids for other regional construction companies that had never bid on Aldi projects before.
According to the indictment, C. Juengel was awarded twelve general contractor contracts
services between March 2016 and May 2017, as a result of the fraud – worth over $21 million
dollars. Due to the lack of competition in the bidding process, Aldi allegedly overpaid the
construction and renovation of stores in the O’Fallon Division, Missouri.
“Individuals and businesses that collude to thwart competition in the free market have a direct and negative impact
impact on communities and the American consumer,” the FBI Springfield Field Office Acting Special said.
Officer 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 deceive
system for their own benefit and profit.
The indictment also charges Schniers with paying monthly kickbacks to Ross in exchange for the receipt.
Aldi contracts. Over a four-year period, Ross allegedly received $554,000 in bribes in
the form of checks drawn on the bank account of C. Juengel. Moreover, the indictment
alleges that Ross also received thousands of dollars in bribes from another person for
the exclusive right to serve as civil engineer on all Aldi new builds and refurbishments
projects in the O’Fallon Division, Missouri.
Ross and Schniers are due 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
is punishable by a maximum prison term 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 the Federal Bureau of
Investigation, and the St. Louis Field Office of the United States Postal Inspection Service.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Zoe J. Gross.
An indictment is simply a formal accusation against an accused. Under the law, an accused is
presumed innocent of any charge until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by the
satisfaction of a jury.