Virginia Security Contractor to Pay $44,000 Over Allegations of Illegally Exporting Firearms Accessories

Alexandria, VA — Pax Mondial LLC, doing business as Mondial Risk Management Company (MRMC), agreed to pay the United States $44,000 to settle civil fraud claims that it illegally exported firearms accessories from the United States to Afghanistan in 2012. At the time, MRMC was providing security services to support work on the Kandahar Helmand Power Project, a United States Government reconstruction project funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
The settlement, reached between MRMC and the U.S. Department of Justice in January 2016, resolves claims that MRMC violated the Arms Export Control Act (AECA) by shipping weapons accessories from the continental United States to a U.S. Army/Air Post Office (APO) in Afghanistan between April 2012 and June 2012.  Working under a subcontract for security services with USAID implementer Black and Veatch, MRMC obtained these accessories, which included rifle stocks, replacement pistol magazines, and other weapons parts, to supply its security teams in Kandahar, Afghanistan.  The government alleged that MRMC knowingly failed to adhere to its subcontract provisions and U.S. laws and regulations regarding the export of such materials in violation of the False Claims Act (31 U.S.C. § 3729 et seq.).
“I commend the work of our special agents and their federal partners,” said Ann Calvaresi Barr, USAID’s Inspector General. “It is vital that U.S. Government contractors comply with rules governing their work and conduct overseas, especially those concerning international shipments of weapons and related accessories.  Failure to adhere to those rules is not acceptable.”
During the investigation, federal authorities identified a number of export violations, including MRMC’s failure to consult with the U.S. Department of State’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC), a step that is required under both U.S. export laws and MRMC’s subcontract provisions.  Authorities also found that MRMC had failed to acquire the requisite permits, licenses, and registrations in order to ship these controlled items and had not registered as an exporter with DDTC.  MRMC did not disclose these violations to U.S. authorities until early 2013, long after the shipments had been made.
Under the settlement, Pax Mondial made no admission of liability.  The company registered with the Department of State’s DDTC while the investigation was underway.
The settlement is a result of joint investigative efforts by the USAID Office of Inspector General; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE’s) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.

Defense Contractor Pleads Guilty to Major Fraud in Provision of Supplies to U.S. Troops in Afghanistan

Supreme Foodservice GmbH, a privately held Swiss company, and Supreme Foodservice FZE, a privately-held United Arab Emirates (UAE) company, pleaded guilty today to major fraud against the United States and agreed to resolve civil violations of the False Claims Act, in connection with a contract to provide food and water to the U.S. troops serving in Afghanistan, the Justice Department announced today.  The companies pleaded guilty in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (EDPA) and paid $288.36 million in the criminal case, a sum that includes the maximum criminal fine allowed.

In addition, Supreme Group B.V. and several of its subsidiaries have agreed to pay an additional $146 million to resolve a related civil lawsuit, as well as two separate civil matters, alleging false billings to the Department of Defense (DoD) for fuel and transporting cargo to American soldiers in Afghanistan.  The lawsuit was filed in the EDPA, and the fuel and transportation allegations were investigated by the Southern District of Illinois and the Eastern District of Virginia, respectively, along with the Department’s Civil Division.

“The civil resolutions and agreements reflect the Justice Department’s continuing efforts to hold accountable contractors that have engaged in war profiteering,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Joyce R. Branda for the Justice Department’s Civil Division.  “The department will pursue contractors that knowingly seek taxpayer funds to which they are not entitled.”

“These companies chose to commit their fraud in connection with a contract to supply food and water to our nation’s fighting men and women serving in Afghanistan,” said U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.  “That kind of conduct is repugnant, and we will use every available resource to punish such illegal war profiteering.”

The Criminal Fraud

In 2005, Supreme Foodservice AG, now called Supreme Foodservice GmbH, entered into a contract with the Defense Supply Center of Philadelphia (DSCP, now called Defense Logistics Agency – Troop Support) to provide food and water for the U.S. forces serving in Afghanistan.  According to court documents, between July 2005 and April 2009, Supreme Foodservice AG, together with Supreme Foodservice KG, now called Supreme Foodservice FZE, devised and implemented a scheme to overcharge the United States in order to make profits over and above those provided in the $8.8 billion subsistence prime vendor (SPV) contract.  The companies fraudulently inflated the price charged for local market ready goods (LMR) and bottled water sold to the United States under the SPV contract.  The Supreme companies did this by using a UAE company it controlled, Jamal Ahli Foods Co. LLC (JAFCO), as a middleman to mark up prices for fresh fruits and vegetables and other locally-produced products sold to the U.S. government, and to obscure the inflated price the Supreme companies were charging for bottled water.  The fraud resulted in a loss to the government of $48 million.

Supreme AG, Supreme FZE and Supreme’s owners (referred to in court documents as Supreme Owners #1 and #2) made concentrated efforts to conceal Supreme’s true relationship with JAFCO, and to make JAFCO appear to be an independent company.  They also took steps to make JAFCO’s mark-up on LMR look legitimate, and persisted in the fraudulent mark-ups even in the face of questions from DSCP about the pricing of LMR.

Even though the SPV contract stated that the Supreme food companies should charge the government the supplier’s price for the goods, emails between executives at the companies (referred to as Supreme Executive #1, #2, etc) reveal the companies’ deliberate decision to inflate the prices. Among other things, Supreme Owner #1 increased the mark-up that JAFCO would impose on non-alcoholic beer from 25 percent to 125 percent.  On or about Feb. 16, 2006, during a discussion about supplying a new product to the U.S. government, one Supreme executive wrote to another, “I am very sure the best option is to buy it from Germany and mark up via [JAFCO], like [non-alcoholic] beer.”

In early March 2006, after a DSCP contracting officer told the Supreme food companies that she wanted to see a manufacturer’s invoice for specific frozen products, Supreme Foodservice GmbH lowered its prices for those products to prices that did not include a JAFCO mark-up.  On March 14, 2006, instead of disclosing that the initial pricing had included a mark-up, a Supreme executive misled the DSCP representative by saying, “Based on more realistic quantities, we have been able to negotiate a better price,” to explain the change in pricing.

In June 2006, when a DSCP contracting officer raised questions about pricing focusing on four specific items, Supreme executives again misled the DSCP, claiming that the high prices were for a high quality of product, and offering to sell lower quality products for lower prices.  Supreme Foodservice GmbH did this even after analyzing its JAFCO margin on the four items in question and finding its profit margins were between 41 and 56 percent.

In September 2007, after a fired Supreme executive threatened to tell the DSCP about the fraud, his former employer entered into negotiation of a “separation agreement” with that executive to induce that executive not to disclose the ways in which the Supreme food companies were overcharging the DSCP.  The agreement stated that the executive would receive, among other things, a payment of 400,000 euros in September 2010, provided that the executive did not cause: a deterioration in the economic situation linked to the SPV contract; the termination of the SPV contract; or a decrease in the price levels for products, specifically including LMR and bottled water provided to the U.S. government.

Defendant Supreme GmbH pleaded guilty to major fraud against the United States, conspiracy to commit major fraud and wire fraud.  Supreme FZE, which owns JAFCO, pleaded guilty to major fraud against the United States.  The Supreme companies agreed to jointly pay $48 million in restitution and $10 million in criminal forfeiture.  Each company also agreed to pay $96 million in criminal fines.  In addition, as a result of the criminal investigation, the Supreme companies paid $38.3 million directly to the DSCP as a refund for separate overpayments on bottled water.

The Civil Settlements

In a related civil settlement, Supreme Group agreed to pay another $101 million to settle a whistleblower lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the EDPA by a former executive, which alleged that Supreme Group, and its food subsidiaries, violated the False Claims Act by knowingly overcharging for supplying food and water under the SPV contract.  The payment also resolves claims that, from June 2005 to December 2010, the Supreme food companies failed to disclose and pass through to the government rebates and discounts it obtained from its suppliers, as required by its SPV contract with the United States.

“Today’s results are part of an ongoing effort by the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) and its law enforcement partners to protect the integrity of the Department of Defense’s acquisition process from personal and corporate greed,” said Deputy Inspector General for Investigations James B. Burch for the U.S. Department of Defense’s Office of the Inspector General.  “The Defense Criminal Investigative Service will continue to pursue allegations of fraud and corruption that puts the Warfighter at risk.”

“We are very pleased with this resolution, and are gratified that the public can now see what we’ve been aggressively investigating,” said Director Frank Robey of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command’s Major Procurement Fraud Unit (MPFU).  “Companies that do business with the government must comply with all of their obligations, and if they overcharge for supplying our men and women in uniform who are bravely serving this nation, they must be held accountable for their actions.”

Separately, Supreme Site Services GmbH, a Supreme Group subsidiary, agreed to pay $20 million to settle allegations that they overbilled for fuel purchased by the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) for Kandahar Air Field (KAF) in Afghanistan under a NATO Basic Ordering Agreement.  The government alleged that Supreme Site Services’ drivers were stealing fuel destined for KAF generators while en route for which the company falsely billed DLA.

“It is important that government contractors supporting conflicts abroad be held accountable for their billings to the government,” said U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente for the Eastern District of Virginia.  “The DoD investigating components are instrumental in protecting the interests of the government, and their efforts in this investigation are to be commended.”

Supreme Group’s subsidiary Supreme Logistics FZE also has agreed to pay $25 million to resolve alleged false billings by Supreme Logistics in connection with shipping contracts between the U.S. Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM), located at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois, and various shipping carriers to transport food to U.S. troops in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom.  The shipping carriers transported cargo destined for U.S. troops from the United States to Latvia or other intermediate ports, and then arranged with logistics vendors, including Supreme Logistics, to carry the cargo the rest of the way to Afghanistan.  The United States alleged that Supreme Logistics falsely billed USTRANSCOM for higher-priced refrigerated trucks when it actually used lower-priced non-refrigerated trucks to transport the cargo.

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Illinois is committed to protecting the integrity of all of the vital missions carried out at Scott Air Force Base, including the mission of the U.S. Transportation Command,” said U.S. Attorney Stephen R. Wigginton for the Southern District of Illinois.  “These vital services carried out by the brave men and women of the armed forces of the United States deserve, and will receive, our full support, and this office will do everything possible to protect their missions.”

“These settlements are victories for American taxpayers,” said Special Inspector General John F. Sopko for Afghanistan Reconstruction.  “It sends a clear signal that whether a case involves a mom and pop outfit or a major multinational corporation, we will work tirelessly with our investigative partners to pursue justice any time U.S. dollars supporting the mission in Afghanistan are misused.”

The EDPA lawsuit was initially filed under the qui tam or whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act, by Michael Epp, Supreme GmbH’s former Director, Commercial Division and Supply Chain.  The False Claims Act prohibits the submission of false claims for government money or property and allows the United States to recover treble damages and penalties for a violation.  Under the Act’s whistleblower provisions, a private party may file suit on behalf of the United States and share in any recovery.  The case remained under seal to permit the United States to investigate the allegations and decide whether to intervene and take over the case.  Epp will receive $16.16 million as his share of the government’s settlement of the lawsuit.

The criminal and civil matters in the EDPA were the result of a coordinated effort by the Department of Justice’s Civil Division, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, DCIS, U.S. Army’s Criminal Investigative Command’s MPFU and the FBI.

The investigation of Supreme Site Services ’ alleged false billings for fuel was conducted by the Civil Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, and the investigation of Supreme Logistics’ alleged false invoices for transportation was handled by the Civil Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Illinois.  Both matters were investigated by the Defense Contract Audit Agency Office of Investigative Support, the Army Audit Agency, the International Contract Corruption Task Force, the U.S. Army’s Criminal Investigative Command’s Major Procurement Fraud Unit, the DoD Office of Inspector General’s DCIS, the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction, the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

The claims resolved by the civil settlements are allegations only, except for the conduct for which the Supreme food companies have pleaded guilty.

Army Sergeant Pleads Guilty for Scheme to Defraud the Military

An Army sergeant pleaded guilty today to bribery and conspiracy to defraud the government for his role in a scheme to steal more than one million gallons of fuel from the U.S. military for resale on the black market in Afghanistan.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Thomas G. Walker of the Eastern District of North Carolina, Special Agent in Charge John F. Khin of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) Southeast Field Office, Special Agent in Charge John A. Strong of the FBI’s Charlotte Division, Director Frank Robey of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command (CID) Major Procurement Fraud Unit (MPFU) and Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John F. Sopko made the announcement.

Christopher Ciampa, 32, of Lillington, North Carolina, entered his guilty plea before U.S. District Court Judge Terrence W. Boyle of the Eastern District of North Carolina.  The sentencing hearing was scheduled for the week of December 15, 2014.

“Sergeant Ciampa took bribes to help steal millions of dollars’ worth of fuel meant to support U.S. military operations in Afghanistan,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell.  “His greed put his fellow soldiers at greater risk, and his actions stand in stark contrast to the integrity and sacrifice demonstrated every day by the men and women of our Armed Forces.”

“The DCIS, with our investigative partners, continues to aggressively pursue those who deprive the Department of Defense of much needed resources, such as fuel, critical to accomplishing its global missions,” said DCIS Special Agent in Charge Khin.  “Corruption and theft in a combat environment, especially on such a large scale, degrade the effectiveness of the U.S. armed forces, and increases the danger to our warfighters by diverting those resources to our enemies

“Sergeant Christopher Ciampa betrayed his unit and nation for personal profit by entering into illegal relationships in order to personally profit from the sale and transport of fuel valued at millions of dollars,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Strong.  “These actions, especially in a wartime environment, damage the reputation of all soldiers and impede the success of coalition war efforts.  Those who put the reputation and lives of their fellow servicemen and women at risk will be aggressively pursued by the FBI and our military partners dedicated to upholding justice.”

“Our highly-trained special agents are experts in fraud investigations and untangling webs of lies and deceit,” said CID MPFU Director Robey.  “Whether an individual is in or out of uniform, it makes no difference, we will do everything in our investigative power to see those who defraud the Army brought to justice.”

“The crimes alleged in this case are serious and describe actions that undermine our mission in Afghanistan,” said Special Inspector General Sopko.  “SIGAR will continue to work tirelessly to protect the American taxpayers’ hard earned money and bring the full weight of the justice system to bear on anyone who seeks to rob the U.S. government.”

According to his plea agreement, Ciampa was deployed to Afghanistan with the 3rd Special Forces Group Service Detachment and was assigned to Camp Brown at Kandahar Air Field between February 2011 and January 2012.  During the deployment, one of Ciampa’s chief responsibilities was management of the Transportation Movement Requests (TMRs) for fuel and other items in support of military units in Afghanistan paid for by the U.S. government.

Over the course of the conspiracy, Ciampa and others created and submitted false TMRs for the purchase of thousands of gallons of fuel that were neither necessary nor used by military units.  Instead, Ciampa and his co-conspirators stole the fuel and resold it on the black market in neighboring towns.  Between February 2011 and December 2011, they created false TMRs for 114 large fuel tanker trucks, which could each carry approximately 10,000 gallons of fuel.  All of the TMRs were awarded to a single Afghan trucking company, despite significantly higher rates charged by this company.

As a result of the criminal conduct, the United States suffered a total loss of $10,812,000.  The loss resulted from stolen fuel and payments on the fraudulent TMRs in the following amounts: $9,120,000 in lost fuel and $1,692,000 in fraudulent TMRs for the 114 large tanker trucks.

Ciampa admitted that he and his co-conspirators sent some of the illicit proceeds back to the United States via wire transfer and carried some of the cash in their luggage, and Ciampa hid $180,000 of stolen funds inside stereo equipment that he shipped back to North Carolina with his unit’s gear.  He used his share of the proceeds from the scheme to purchase a truck and other personal items.

The case was investigated by DCIS, FBI, CID MPFU and the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR).  The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Wade Weems on detail to the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section from SIGAR and Assistant U.S. Attorney Banumathi Rangarajan of the Eastern District of North Carolina.

Two Individuals Plead Guilty to Conspiring to Launder Bribes Received in Afghanistan

Two individuals have pleaded guilty for their roles in a scheme to launder approximately $250,000 in bribes received from Afghan contractors in Afghanistan.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, United States Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee Edward L. Stanton III and United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee William C. Killian made the announcement.
Jimmy W. Dennis, 44, formerly of Clarksville, Tennessee, and a former First Sergeant with the U.S. Army, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Samuel H. May Jr. of the Western District of Tennessee to conspiracy to launder approximately $250,000 in bribe payments he received from Afghan contractors in Afghanistan.    Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 4, 2014.

James C. Pittman, 45, of Rossville, Georgia, pleaded guilty last Thursday before U.S. Magistrate Judge William B. Carter of the Eastern District of Tennessee for his role in this conspiracy.    Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 8, 2014.

According to pleadings filed at the time of the guilty pleas, from March 2008 through March 2009, Dennis was an Army Sergeant assigned as a paying agent in the Humanitarian Aid Yard (HA Yard) at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan.    Dennis was a member of the team in the HA Yard that purchased supplies from local Afghan vendors for distribution as part of the Commander’s Emergency Response Program for urgent humanitarian relief requirements in Afghanistan.    Dennis and a partner entered into an agreement to steer contracts to certain Afghan vendors in return for approximately $250,000 in cash bribes.

Further according to court pleadings, Dennis smuggled the bribe money back to the United States hidden in packages addressed to his wife, his father and a former Army friend, Pittman.    Dennis sent $80,000 to $100,000 to his father from Afghanistan in packages that contained toy “jingle trucks,” colorfully decorated trucks or buses in Afghanistan and Pakistan.    Dennis hid the money in the rear compartment of the toy trucks.    Dennis also shipped a hope chest to his father containing approximately $100,000 in cash in a concealed compartment.

Also according to court documents, while on leave, Dennis met with Pittman, advised him that he had obtained money through kickbacks, and asked him for help laundering the funds.    Pittman, owner of a landscaping business, agreed to “run through his company” these bribery proceeds.  After returning to Afghanistan, Dennis sent approximately $60,000 to Pittman contained in toy jingle trucks.    Dennis also arranged for his father to send approximately $20,000 to Pittman, who returned it in the form of purported salary checks from Pittman’s company.

These matters are being investigated by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, the FBI, the Army Criminal Investigative Division, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, and the Air Force Office of Special Investigation.    The prosecution is being handled by Trial Attorney Daniel Butler of the Criminal Division and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Frederick Godwin of the Western District of Tennessee and James Brooks of the Eastern District of Tennessee.

Former Employee of U.S. Contractor Pleads Guilty to Fraud Scheme

A former employee of a U.S. contractor pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to defraud the United States in connection with a contract to provide reconstruction-related services in Afghanistan.
Acting Assistant Attorney General David O’Neil of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and United States Attorney for the Middle District of Florida A. Lee Bentley made the announcement.
Alan D. Simmons pleaded guilty today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Patricia D. Barksdale in the Middle District of Florida.
According to court documents, Simmons worked in Afghanistan as a training program coordinator for PAE Inc.  PAE had a contract with the United States Department of State to train and supply uniforms to Afghan correctional officers.    Simmons was responsible for providing information to others at PAE as to the number and types of uniforms that were to be ordered and provided to the Afghan correctional officers upon their completion of the training program.
As alleged in court documents, Simmons and others created a company, Aminzian Logistics Services (Aminzian), ostensibly to provide uniforms to PAE as a subcontractor.    In fact, Aminzian would submit false and fraudulent invoices to PAE seeking payment for goods that were not in fact provided.    After Aminzian was paid, Simmons and his co-conspirators split the proceeds.    The United States reimbursed PAE for its payments to Aminzian and incurred a loss of over $120,000.
The case was investigated by the Department of State Office of Inspector General and the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR).    This case was prosecuted by Special Trial Attorney Mark H. Dubester, on detail from SIGAR, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin C. Frein of the Middle District of Florida.

 

Army Soldier Sentenced for Facilitating Thefts of Fuel in Afghanistan

United States Army soldier Albert Kelly III of Fort Knox, Kentucky, was sentenced to serve 18 months in prison for his role in stealing fuel at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Salerno in Afghanistan.    In addition to his prison term, Kelly was sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $100,000 in restitution.
Acting Assistant Attorney General David O’Neil of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney David J. Hale of the Western District of Kentucky made the announcement after the sentence was imposed by Senior U.S. District Court Judge Charles R. Simpson III in the Western District of Kentucky.
According to court documents, from January 2011 to January 2012, Kelly was assigned to FOB Salerno, and for most of that time he served as a specialist.    Kelly’s duties included overseeing the delivery of fuel into FOB Salerno.  Typically, the fuel was brought into the base by Afghan trucking companies driven by Afghan nationals.    Kelly’s duties included verifying the amounts of the fuel that were delivered at FOB Salerno and preparing and certifying documents that accounted for the fuel that was delivered.
From in or about November 2011 through January 2012, Kelly diverted and permitted the diversion of fuel delivery trucks from FOB Salerno to other locations, where the diverted fuel would then be removed from the trucks and stolen.    To conceal this diversion, he falsely certified that the diverted fuel was in fact delivered at FOB Salerno.
Also according to court documents, in exchange for assisting in the theft of fuel as described, Kelly received approximately $57,000 from the Afghan trucking company.    He admitted the amount of fuel he permitted to be diverted amounted to approximately 25,000 gallons.    The United States Army paid approximately $4.00 per gallon for that fuel, and the loss to the government was approximately $100,000.
The case was investigated by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.    This case was handled by Special Trial Attorney Mark H. Dubester, on detail from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Bennett of the Western District of Kentucky.

Navy Petty Officer Based in Japan Charged in International Bribery Scandal

A fourth U.S. Navy official has been charged in a complaint unsealed today with accepting cash, luxury travel and consumer electronics from a foreign defense contractor in exchange for classified and internal U.S. Navy information.
Acting Assistant Attorney General David A. O’Neil of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Laura E. Duffy of the Southern District of California, Director Andrew Traver of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) and Deputy Inspector General for Investigations James B. Burch of the U.S. Department of Defense Office of the Inspector General made the announcement.
Petty Officer First Class Dan Layug, 27, who enlisted in the Navy in September 2006, was arrested on April 16, 2014, in San Diego by special agents with NCIS and Defense Criminal Investigative Service.   Layug made his initial appearance today in federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen S. Crawford in the Southern District of California.
According to the complaint, Layug received bribes in return for sending sensitive U.S. Navy information to employees of Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA), a defense contractor.   GDMA CEO Leonard Glenn Francis, 49, of Malaysia, had previously been charged with conspiring to bribe U.S. Navy officials, and GDMA executive Alex Wisidagama, 40, of Singapore, pleaded guilty on March 18, 2014, to defrauding the U.S. Navy.   Two other senior Navy officials – Commander Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz, 46, and Commander Jose Luis Sanchez, 41 – have been charged separately with bribery conspiracies involving Francis and have pleaded not guilty.   On Dec. 17, 2013, Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) Supervisory Special Agent John Bertrand Beliveau II, 44, pleaded guilty to bribery charges for regularly tipping off Francis to the status of the government’s investigation into GDMA.
According to the complaint, Layug worked secretly on behalf of GDMA by providing classified ship schedules and other sensitive U.S. Navy information in exchange for cash, travel expenses, and consumer electronics.   Court records allege that Layug used his position as a logistics specialist at a U.S. Navy facility in Yokosuka, Japan, to gain access to U.S. Navy ship schedules – some of which were classified – and other internal information, and provided this information to GDMA’s vice president of global operations.   In exchange, court records allege, GDMA provided Layug with regular payments, some of which were delivered in envelopes of cash.   The complaint alleges that on May 21, 2012, the vice president of global operations instructed a GDMA accountant that “at the end of each month, we will be providing an allowance to Mr. Dan Layug.   Total of US $1000.   You may pay him the equivalent in Yen.   He will come by the office at the end of each month to see you.”
Court records allege that, in addition to his monthly “allowance,” Layug sought consumer electronics from GDMA.   In an email on March 9, 2012, Layug asked the vice president of global operations “what are the chances of getting the new Ipad 3 [sic]?   Please let me know.”   In another email exchange on May 28, 2013, Layug asked the vice president of global operations for a “bucket list” of items including a high end camera, an iPhone5 cellular phone, a Samsung S4 cellular phone, and an iPad Mini.   Shortly after sending his “bucket list” to the vice president of global operations, Layug stated in an email that “the camera is awesome bro!   Thanks a lot!   Been a while since I had a new gadget!”
In addition to consumer electronics, GDMA allegedly provided Layug and his friends with rooms at luxury hotels throughout Asia.
According to court documents, Layug allegedly undertook steps to conceal his bribery relationship with GDMA by, among other things, describing classified ship schedules using the code word “golf schedules” and opening a bank account in the name of his infant daughter into which he deposited portions of his “allowance.”
The ongoing investigation is being conducted by NCIS, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service and the Defense Contract Audit Agency.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mark Pletcher and Robert Huie of the Southern District of California, Director of Procurement Fraud Catherine Votaw and Attorney Brian Young of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, and Trial Attorney Wade Weems, on detail to the Fraud Section from the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction.
The charges contained in the criminal complaint are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed to be not guilty unless and until proven guilty.
Those with information relating to fraud, corruption or waste in government contracting should contact the NCIS anonymous tip line at www.ncis.navy.mil or the DOD Hotline at www.dodig.mil/hotline , or call (800) 424-9098.

Former Employee of Navy Contractor Pleads Guilty in International Navy Bribery Scandal

Alex Wisidagama, a citizen of Singapore formerly employed by Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA), pleaded guilty today to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States for his role in a scheme to overbill the U.S. Navy for ship husbanding services.   Wisidagama’s plea is the second in an expanding investigation into acts of alleged fraud and bribery committed by GDMA and several United States Navy officers and personnel.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Laura E. Duffy of the Southern District of California, Director Andrew Traver of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) and Deputy Inspector General for Investigations James B. Burch of the U.S. Department of Defense Office of the Inspector General made the announcement after the plea was accepted by U.S. Magistrate Judge Jan M. Adler of the Southern District of California.   The plea is subject to acceptance by U.S. District Judge Janis Sammartino.   Sentencing is set for June 13, 2014, before Judge Sammartino.
Wisidagama, who was arrested in San Diego, Calif., on Sept. 16, 2013, served as the general manager of global government contracts for GDMA, which was owned and operated by his cousin, Leonard Glenn Francis .   GDMA was a multi-national corporation with headquarters in Singapore and operating locations in other countries, including Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, Korea, India, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Australia, Philippines, Sri Lanka and the United States.   GDMA provided the U.S. Navy with hundreds of millions of dollars in husbanding services, which involve the coordinating, scheduling and procurement of items and services required by ships and submarines when they arrive at port.   These services included providing tugboats; paying port authority and customs fees; furnishing security and transportation; supplying provisions, fuel and water; and removing trash and collecting liquid waste.
In his plea agreement, Wisidagama admitted to conspiring to defraud the U.S. Navy in different ways.   Wisidagama and other GDMA employees generated bills charging the U.S. Navy for port tariffs that were far greater than the tariffs that GDMA actually paid.   In some cases, Wisidagama and others created fictitious port authorities for ports visited by U.S. Navy ships, and in other cases, Wisidagama and GDMA created fake invoices from legitimate port authorities purporting to bill the U.S. Navy at inflated tariff rates.   Wisidagama and GDMA also overbilled the U.S. Navy for fuel by creating fraudulent invoices which represented that GDMA acquired fuel at the same cost that it charged the U.S. Navy when in fact GDMA sold the fuel to the U.S. Navy for far more than it actually paid.   Wisidagama and GDMA also defrauded the U.S. Navy on the provision of incidental items by creating fake price quotes purportedly from other vendors to make it appear that the other vendors’ offering prices were greater than GDMA’s prices.
Wisidagama is the second defendant to plead guilty as part of this investigation.   On Dec. 17, 2013, former NCIS Supervisory Special Agent John Bertrand Beliveau Jr. pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery after admitting to providing Francis with sensitive law enforcement information in exchange for things of value such as cash, travel accommodations, lavish dinners, and prostitutes.   In addition to Beliveau and Wisidagama, Francis and U.S. Navy Commanders Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz and Jose Luis Sanchez have been charged as part of a bribery and fraud scheme designed to defraud the U.S. Navy.   The charges against Misiewicz, Sanchez and Francis are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The ongoing investigation is being conducted by NCIS, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service and the Defense Contract Audit Agency.   Significant assistance was provided by the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs, as well as the Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, the Royal Thai Police and the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau in Singapore.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mark Pletcher and Robert Huie of the Southern District of California, Director of Procurement Fraud Catherine Votaw and Trial Attorney Brian Young of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, and Trial Attorney Wade Weems, on detail to the Fraud Section from the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction.

Army Soldier Sentenced for Facilitating Thefts of Fuel in Afghanistan

A U.S. Army soldier was sentenced to serve 12 months and one day in prison for his role in stealing fuel at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Fenty near Jalalabad, Afghanistan.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney David J. Hale of the Western District of Kentucky made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Court Judge Thomas B. Russell in the Western District of Kentucky.
According to court documents, in May and June 2010, U.S. Army Sergeant Kevin Bilal Abdullah, 40, of Clarksville, Tenn., was involved in overseeing the delivery of fuel from FOB Fenty to other military bases.    Abdullah created fraudulent documents called Transportation Movement Requests purporting to authorize the transport of fuel from FOB Fenty to other military bases, even though no legitimate fuel transportation was required.    After the trucks were filled with fuel, these fraudulent documents were used by the drivers of the fuel trucks at FOB Fenty’s departure checkpoint to justify the trucks’ departures.    In truth, the fuel was simply stolen, and  Abdullah and his co-conspirators received payment in cash from a representative of the Afghan trucking company that allegedly stole the fuel.
Abdullah pleaded guilty on Aug. 29, 2013, to receiving payments from a representative of the trucking company in exchange for facilitating the theft of fuel in approximately 25 fuel trucks.    He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery and to the substantive count of bribery.   At sentencing, he was ordered to pay $466,250 in restitution.
Abdullah’s sentencing was the fourth conviction arising from this investigation of fuel thefts at FOB Fenty.    On Aug. 3, 2012, Jonathan Hightower, a civilian employee of a military contractor who had conspired with Abdullah and others, pleaded guilty to similar charges.    After cooperating with the government, he was sentenced on Oct. 28, 2013, to serve 27 months in prison.    On Oct.10, 2012, Christopher Weaver, another conspirator, pleaded guilty to fuel theft charges and, after cooperating with the government, was sentenced on Oct. 28, 2013, to serve 37 months in prison.    On Sept. 5, 2013, former Specialist Stephanie Charboneau pleaded guilty, and on Feb. 4, 2014, she was sentenced to serve 87 months in prison.    Weaver, Hightower and Charboneau were prosecuted in the District of Colorado.
These cases were investigated by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), the Department of the Army – Criminal Investigation Division, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service and the FBI.
The Abdullah case was handled by Special Trial Attorney Mark H. Dubester of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, on detail from SIGAR, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Bennett.

Independent Contractor in Afghanistan Pleads Guilty for His Role in Offering $54,000 in Bribes to a U.S. Government Official

Earlier today at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, N.Y., Akbar Ahmad Sherzai, 49, of Centreville, Va., an independent contractor for a trucking company operating in Afghanistan that was responsible for delivering fuel to U.S. Army installations, pleaded guilty to his role in offering a U.S. Army serviceman $54,000 in bribes to falsify documents to reflect the successful delivery of fuel shipments that Army records indicate were never delivered.  Sherzai faces a maximum of 15 years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Loretta E. Lynch made the announcement.
“The defendant sought to use deception, corruption and greed to enrich his company at the risk of jeopardizing the U.S. Army’s supply lines in Afghanistan,” said U.S. Attorney Lynch.  “Attempts to corrupt American officials will not be tolerated, either at home or abroad.”  U.S. Attorney Lynch extended her grateful appreciation to the Special Inspector General for the Afghanistan Reconstruction, Homeland Security Investigations and the FBI for their assistance in this case.
The U.S. Army regularly contracts with local Afghan trucking companies to transport U.S. military equipment, fuel, and other supplies throughout Afghanistan.  To ensure the companies fulfilled these requests, the U.S. Army used transportation movement requests (TMRs), which, when properly completed, verified that the shipments were successfully completed before approving payments to the trucking companies.
In April 2013, Sherzai approached a U.S. military serviceman to discuss fuel delivery missions that had been classified by the U.S. Army as “no-shows,” meaning that the fuel had not been delivered.  Sherzai offered the serviceman a bribe to falsify the TMRs to reflect successful deliveries so that Sherzai’s company would receive payment and avoid penalties for failed fuel deliveries.  The serviceman, under the supervision of law enforcement, continued to meet with Sherzai to discuss payments for the falsification of records.  On two separate occasions, Sherzai paid the serviceman bribes in cash on American military bases in Afghanistan.  On another occasion, Sherzai arranged for the serviceman’s bribe to be transferred to the United States through a hawala, an informal money transfer system.  In total, Sherzai paid the serviceman $54,000 in cash to falsify fourteen TMRs.  Each “no show” delivery mission, absent the fraudulent TMRs, would have resulted in a fine of the company by the U.S. government of $75,000.
Sherzai was arrested on a criminal complaint on Sept. 24, 2013.  The guilty plea proceeding was held before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert M. Levy.
The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorney Amir H. Toossi and Trial Attorney Daniel Butler of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.

 

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