California Man Arrested for Alleged Scheme to Smuggle Export-Controlled Rifle Scopes and Tactical Equipment to Syria

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Rasheed Al Jijakli, 56, the chief executive officer of an Orange County, California check cashing business, was arrested this morning on federal charges that accuse him of procuring and illegally exporting rifle scopes, laser boresighters and other tactical equipment from the U.S. to Syria, in violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA).  Jijakli is expected to be arraigned this afternoon in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, on a three-count indictment that was returned by a federal grand jury on July 14.  The indictment was unsealed this morning after Jijakli was taken into custody without incident by law enforcement authorities.

Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Dana J. Boente and Acting U.S. Attorney Sandra R. Brown for the Central District of California made the announcement.

The indictment accuses Jijakli, a naturalized U.S. citizen, of violating IEEPA, which authorizes the President of the U.S. to impose economic sanctions on a foreign country in response to an unusual or extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy or economy of the U.S. In accordance with that authority, the President issued an executive order that included broad restrictions on exports to Syria.  The U.S. Department of Commerce subsequently issued corresponding regulations restricting exports to Syria of items subject to the Export Administration Regulations.  Jijakli also faces charges of conspiring to violate IEEPA and smuggling.

From January 2012 through March 2013, Jijakli and three other individuals purchased and smuggled export-controlled items to Syria without obtaining licenses from the Department of Commerce. Jijakli and others allegedly hand-carried the items through Istanbul, Turkey and provided them to fighters in Syria. Those items allegedly included day-and night-vision rifle scopes, laser boresighters (tools used to adjust sights on firearms for accuracy when firing), flashlights, radios, a bulletproof vest and other tactical equipment.

An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.  If convicted of all three charges in the indictment, Jijakli would face a statutory maximum penalty of 50 years in prison.  The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes.  If convicted of any offense, the defendant’s sentence will be determined by the court after considering the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

This case is the result of an ongoing investigation being conducted by the FBI, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Office of Export Enforcement and IRS Criminal Investigation.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Takla of the Terrorism and Export Crimes Section of the Central District of California, and Trial Attorney Christian Ford of the Counterintelligence and Export Control Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

Former Government Contractor Sentenced to 60 Months for His Participation in Bribery Conspiracy

Friday, July 28, 2017

A former owner of a government contracting company that serviced the Military Sealift Command (MSC) was sentenced to 60 months in prison, and to pay a $15,000 fine, for his participation in a bribery conspiracy from approximately 1999 to 2014, in which he provided a contracting official at MSC with almost $3 million in bribes.  Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente of the Eastern District of Virginia made the announcement.

U.S. District Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen today sentenced Joseph P. Allen, 56, of Panama City, Florida, following his guilty plea on April 19, to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery.

According to the statement of facts included in Allen’s guilty plea, Allen conspired with a government contracting official, Scott B. Miserendino, Sr., 58, formerly of Stafford, Virginia, to use Miserendino’s position at MSC to enrich themselves through bribery.  Specifically, beginning in about 1999, Miserendino used his position and influence at MSC to facilitate and expand Allen’s company’s commission agreement with a third-party telecommunications company that sold maritime satellite services to MSC.  Unknown to MSC or the telecommunications company, throughout the scheme, Allen paid half of the commissions he received from that telecommunications company to Miserendino as bribes.

For his role in the scheme, Miserendino was charged in a five-count indictment on May 4, with one count of conspiracy to commit bribery and honest services mail fraud, one count of bribery, and three counts of honest services mail fraud.  His trial is currently scheduled for October 31, before U.S. District Court Judge Rebecca Beach Smith.  The charges and allegations against Miserendino contained in the indictment are merely accusations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The Norfolk offices of the FBI, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service investigated the case.  Trial Attorneys Sean F. Mulryne and Molly Gaston of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen W. Haynie of the Eastern District of Virginia are prosecuting the case.

Army National Guard Official Pleads Guilty for Accepting $30,000 Bribe

An Army National Guard official pleaded guilty today for accepting a $30,000 bribe in exchange for steering a $3.6 million contract to a retired sergeant major of the Minnesota Army National Guard and his consulting company.  Today’s guilty plea is the eighth in connection with an investigation into corruption within the National Guard Bureau related to the awarding of millions of dollars of Army National Guard marketing, retention and recruitment contracts.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente of the Eastern District of Virginia, U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch of the Eastern District of New York, Assistant Director in Charge Andrew McCabe of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, Special Agent in Charge Robert E. Craig Jr. of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) Mid-Atlantic Field Office and Director Frank Robey of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigative Command’s Major Procurement Fraud Unit (Army-CID) made the announcement.

Jason Rappoccio, 39, of Hampton, South Carolina, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady of the Eastern District of Virginia to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery and one count of bribery.  Rappoccio was indicted on Sept. 25, 2014, and will be sentenced on May 22, 2015.

According to plea documents, Rappoccio, who was an active duty sergeant first class in the Army National Guard, admitted to accepting a $30,000 bribe from Timothy Bebus, a retired sergeant major of the Minnesota Army National Guard and owner of Mil-Team Consulting and Solutions LLC (Mil-Team).  In exchange, Rappoccio agreed to recommend the award of a $3.6 million contract to Mil-Team and to steer the contract to a Small Business Administration (SBA) 8(a) certified company, chosen by Bebus, that would sub-contract the work to Mil-Team.

Rappoccio admitted that he received the $30,000 bribe in installments to conceal the payment.  Bebus gave $6,000 in cash directly to Rappoccio at a meeting in Arlington, Virginia.  The remaining $24,000 was paid in a cashier’s check in the name of Rappoccio’s wife.

Rappoccio also admitted that days after receiving the $30,000 bribe, he solicited and received airline tickets for two of his family members from Bebus.  Three months later, Rappoccio also received NFL tickets worth $1,328 from another co-conspirator.  At the time that he accepted these additional benefits, Rappoccio agreed to steer an additional $4 million contract to Bebus and his company.

The case is being investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office, with assistance from DCIS’s Mid-Atlantic Field Office and Army-CID’s Expeditionary Fraud Resident Agency’s Major Procurement Fraud Unit.  The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Alison L. Anderson of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Fahey of the Eastern District of Virginia and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Marisa Seifan and Martin Coffey of the Eastern District of New York.

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.

Former United States Navy Military Sealift Command Contractor and Co-Founder of Government Contracting Company Sentenced to Prison

A former contractor for the U.S. Navy Military Sealift Command (MSC) and a co-founder of a Chesapeake, Virginia, government contracting company were sentenced today for their roles in a scheme to bribe and provide illegal gratuities to public officials to secure lucrative military contracts.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente of the Eastern District of Virginia, Special Agent in Charge Royce E. Curtin of the FBI’s Norfolk Office, Executive Assistant Director Charles T. May Jr. of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), and Special Agent in Charge Robert E. Craig, Jr. of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) Mid-Atlantic Field Office made the announcement.  United States District Judge Rebecca Beach Smith of the Eastern District of Virginia imposed the sentences.

Scott B. Miserendino Sr., 55, of Stafford, Virginia, and Timothy S. Miller, 58, of Chesapeake, Virginia, were sentenced to serve 96 months in prison and 24 months in prison, respectively.  Miserendino was also ordered to forfeit $212,000 and Miller was ordered to forfeit $167,000.  Miller was also ordered to pay a fine of $25,000.  In August 2014, Miserendino pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery and one count of bribery, and Miller pleaded guilty to providing illegal gratuities to Miserendino and Kenny E. Toy, the former Afloat Programs Manager for the N6 Command, Control, Communication, and Computer Systems Directorate.

According to admissions in his plea agreement, Miserendino was a government contractor at the MSC, which is the leading provider of transportation for the U.S. Navy.  In that position, Miserendino worked closely with Toy, who exercised substantial influence over the MSC contracting process.  In November 2004, Miserendino and Toy initiated a bribery scheme that spanned five years, involved multiple co-conspirators, including two companies, and resulted in Miserendino and Toy receiving more than $265,000 in cash, among other things of value, in exchange for official acts in connection with the award of MSC contracts.

Specifically, Miserendino and Toy solicited cash from co-conspirators, including a $50,000 cash payment from Miller and his business partner, Dwayne A. Hardman, to influence the award of government contracts.  Miserendino admitted that he and Toy also accepted other things of value in exchange for official acts, including a vacation rental, laptop computers, flat screen televisions, a football helmet signed by Troy Aikman, a wine refrigerator and softball bats.

According to Miller’s admissions, during the scheme, his company received approximately $2.5 million in business from the MSC, despite its limited record of past performance in the industry.  Miserendino and Toy also directed $3 million in business from MSC to another company run by other co-conspirators.

After the cash payments were delivered, Miller admitted that he directed the creation of a false promissory note disguising the illegal gratuities as a personal loan to another individual.  Miserendino also admitted to engaging in a scheme to conceal his criminal activity by arranging for more than $85,000 to be paid to Hardman in an attempt to dissuade him from reporting the bribery scheme to law enforcement authorities.

Earlier this year, five other individuals pleaded guilty and were sentenced in connection with the bribery scheme:

  • Toy pleaded guilty to bribery and was sentenced to eight years in prison and ordered to forfeit $100,000;
  • Hardman pleaded guilty to bribery and was sentenced to eight years in prison and ordered to forfeit $144,000;
  • Michael P. McPhail pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery and was sentenced to three years in prison and ordered to forfeit $57,000;
  • Roderic J. Smith pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery and was sentenced to four years in prison and ordered to forfeit $175,000; and
  • Adam C. White pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery and was sentenced to two years in prison and ordered to forfeit $57,000.

The case was investigated by the FBI, NCIS and DCIS, and prosecuted by Trial Attorney Emily Rae Woods of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen W. Haynie of the Eastern District of Virginia.

Five Army National Guard Officials and One Civilian Charged with Bribery

Four retired and one active-duty Army National Guard officials and one civilian have been charged for their alleged participation in bribery schemes related to the awarding of millions of dollars of Army National Guard marketing, retention and recruitment contracts.  Two of the retired Army National Guard officials and the civilian pleaded guilty for their roles in the schemes.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente of the Eastern District of Virginia, U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch of the Eastern District of New York, Assistant Director in Charge Andrew McCabe of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, Special Agent in Charge Robert E. Craig Jr. of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) Mid-Atlantic Field Office and Director Frank Robey of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigative Command’s Major Procurement Fraud Unit (Army-CID) made the announcement.

“As captured by its motto, the Army National Guard is ‘always ready, always there’ for the American people,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell.  “Unfortunately, today’s charges expose National Guard officials who were ‘always ready’ to pocket bribes and ‘always there’ to take kickbacks.  In return, the charged officials allegedly subverted the open bidding process and illegally steered millions of taxpayer dollars to the bribe-payers through marketing and advertising contracts.  Corruption should know no place in American government, but least of all in the military that so honorably serves our country.  The Criminal Division is committed to rooting out corruption wherever we find it, including in the military, so that we can ensure that no one is putting the public’s trust up for sale.”

“These criminal charges and guilty pleas reflect our continued commitment to rooting out public corruption wherever it occurs,” said U.S. Attorney Boente.  “The public contracting process should be one of integrity and fairness, and these cases should send a strong message that public corruption will be vigorously prosecuted in the military as well as other areas of government.”

“This investigation has sadly reminded us that even some members of our military are willing to trade on the trust their country placed in them to line their pockets with the profits of corrupt activities,” said U.S. Attorney Lynch.  “We and our law enforcement partners will constantly guard against and root out such corruption wherever we find it.”

Charles Sines, 56, of Stafford, Virginia, a retired colonel from the United States Army National Guard; Wesley Russell, 48, of Albany, Indiana, a retired lieutenant colonel from the Indiana Army National Guard; and Jason Rappoccio, 39, of Hampton, South Carolina, an active-duty sergeant first class from the Army National Guard are charged with conspiracy to solicit bribes and the solicitation of bribes.  Russell and Rappoccio allegedly asked for and received bribes, and Sines allegedly provided bribes.

Robert Porter, 50 of Columbia, Maryland, a retired colonel from the Army National Guard, and Timothy Bebus, 44, of Forest Lake, Minnesota, a retired sergeant major of the Minnesota Army National Guard and owner of Mil-Team Consulting and Solutions LLC, each pleaded guilty in the Eastern District of Virginia in September 2014 to conspiracy to commit bribery and bribery of a public official.  Julianne Hubbell, 45, of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, a civilian who partnered with her brother, Bebus, as the vice president of operations of Mil-Team, also pleaded guilty in September 2014 to conspiracy to commit bribery.  Sentencing hearings for Bebus and Hubbell are scheduled for Jan. 23, 2015, and for Porter on Jan. 30, 2015.

“The alleged steering of large government contracts is offensive to active duty, reserve and retired members of the National Guard Bureau who took an oath to support and defend the Constitution,” said FBI Assistant Director in Charge McCabe.  “It is also offensive to average American citizens who trust their government and its contractors to use taxpayer money wisely.  We urge anyone who has knowledge of corruption and abuse in federal government contracting to contact the FBI.”

“The Department of Defense places special trust and confidence in its service members, particularly those in positions to influence the expenditure of taxpayer dollars,” said DCIS Special Agent in Charge Craig.  “Guardsmen hold a unique position in our society, representing both their state and military service.  The alleged behavior uncovered in this investigation was a disservice to both, but in no way typical of those honorable women and men that serve in our Army and Air National Guard.  Identifying and investigating fraud and public corruption remains the highest of priorities for the Defense Criminal Investigative Service.  Alongside our law enforcement partners, we will continue to aggressively pursue allegations of fraud impacting Department of Defense resources.”

“We have highly-trained, Army CID special agents who are extremely talented and very capable of rooting out this type of corruption within our ranks,” said Army-CID Director Robey.   “People must realize, both in and out of uniform, that fraud will not be tolerated within the Army and Department of Defense, and greed cannot and will not trump duty and honor.”

As set forth in the indictments and other publicly-filed documents, the National Guard Bureau is a joint activity of the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), state Army National Guard units and the Departments of the Army and Air Force.  The National Guard Bureau, located in Arlington, Virginia, oversees the distribution of federal funding provided to the Army National Guard and its state units.

The DOD provides millions of dollars of federal funds to the Army National Guard for, among other things, advertising, marketing and sponsorships in order to recruit new members.  The National Guard Bureau uses these funds to promote the Army National Guard by entering into advertising, marketing and sponsorship contracts.  For example, through advertising, marketing and sponsorship contracts, the National Guard was an official sponsor of Dew Tour, Warrior Dash, and American Motorcycle Association Supercross’s events, where recruiters handed out promotional items and recruited new members.  The National Guard also had a contract to sponsor Michael Jordan’s AMA Superbike team.

The National Guard Bureau can avoid a competitive bid process by awarding these federally-funded marketing contracts to Small Business Administration (SBA) certified 8(a) companies, which are minority-owned businesses.  The National Guard Bureau also provides a portion of the federal funds to the state units to allocate.

The indictments allege that Sines and Rappoccio evaded the competitive bid process by using 8(a) companies to award contracts in exchange for bribes.

According to allegations in the indictment against him, Sines founded a company, Financial Solutions, after retiring from the Army National Guard as a colonel.  Sines allegedly paid Porter, a then-active-duty colonel in the Army National Guard, a percentage of all contracts that Porter steered to Financial Solutions through 8(a) companies.  As the director of the National Guard Bureau’s Guard Strength Directorate, Porter had substantial influence over the awarding of National Guard Bureau contracts, and allegedly steered approximately $4.5 million worth of contracts to Sines and Financial Solutions.

The indictment against Russell alleges that, while on active duty as a lieutenant colonel in the Indiana Army National Guard, Russell demanded 15 percent of all profits that a private marketing company would receive from state Army National Guard units.  In return for his 15 percent cut of the profits, Russell allegedly promoted and encouraged state Army National Guard units to purchase the marketing company’s products.

The indictment against Rappoccio, an active-duty sergeant first class in the Army National Guard, alleges that Bebus and Hubbell paid Rappoccio a $30,000 bribe for steering a contract worth approximately $3.7 million to an 8(a) company chosen by Bebus.  In pleading guilty, Bebus and Hubbell admitted to paying this bribe.  In an effort to conceal the bribe payment, Bebus, Hubbell and others allegedly arranged for the payment of $6,000 in cash to Rappoccio, and the remaining $24,000 was allegedly routed from a business account controlled by Hubbell to an account controlled by Bebus and Hubbell’s brother-in-law, and then provided to Rappoccio in the form of a cashier’s check to Rappoccio’s wife.

An indictment is merely an allegation, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The case is being investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office, with assistance from DCIS’s Mid-Atlantic Field Office and Army-CID’s Expeditionary Fraud Resident Agency’s Major Procurement Fraud Unit.  The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Alison L. Anderson of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Fahey of the Eastern District of Virginia and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Marisa Seifan and Martin Coffey of the Eastern District of New York.

Allegations of bribery or corruption within the National Guard Bureau’s retention and recruitment contracting can be reported to the FBI’s Washington Field Office at (202) 278-2000 or the FBI’s Northern Virginia Public Corruption Hotline at (703) 686-6225.

Co-Founder of Government Contracting Company Pleads Guilty to Bribery

Timothy S. Miller, 58, a co-founder of a Chesapeake, Virginia, government contracting company, pleaded guilty today to bribing two public officials working for the United States Navy Military Sealift Command.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, United States Attorney Dana J. Boente of the Eastern District of Virginia, Special Agent in Charge Robert Craig of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) Mid-Atlantic Field Office, Special Agent in Charge Susan Triesch of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) Norfolk Field Office, and Special Agent in Charge Royce E. Curtin of the FBI Norfolk Field Office made the announcement today after Miller’s guilty plea was accepted by United States Magistrate Judge Lawrence R. Leonard of the Eastern District of Virginia.

According to a statement of facts filed with the plea agreement, in February 2009, Miller, along with his business partner, Dwayne A. Hardman, co-founded a government contracting company that provided telecommunications support to the Military Sealift Command, which is the leading provider of transportation for the U.S. Navy.

At the plea hearing, Miller admitted that he bribed two officials at the Military Sealift Command for favorable official acts.    In particular, he admitted that on May 12, 2009, he gave $30,000 in cash to Kenny E. Toy, the former Afloat Programs Manager for the Military Sealift Command’s N6 Command, Control, Communication, and Computer Systems Directorate, and Scott B. Miserendino Sr., a government contractor who worked with Toy at the Military Sealift Command Headquarters.    He also admitted that just two days after giving Toy and Miserendino the $30,000, he agreed that Hardman should give Toy and Miserendino an additional $20,000.

According to Miller’s statement of facts, Toy exercised substantial influence over the Military Sealift Command contracting process by creating and executing multi-million dollar budgets, obtaining funding for projects, developing and having access to sensitive information, and requesting that subcontract work be awarded to particular companies.   As a result of the $50,000 payment, Miserendino and Toy performed various official acts to assist Miller’s company.    Indeed, in 2009, Miller’s company received approximately $2.5 million in business from the Military Sealift Command.

As a condition of his plea agreement, Miller has agreed to forfeit $167,000.    Miller is scheduled to be sentenced on November 7, 2014.

Earlier this year, five other individuals pleaded guilty in connection with the bribery scheme.    On February 12, 2014, Toy pleaded guilty to bribery, and he was sentenced on July 29, 2014, to serve 96 months in prison and ordered to forfeit $100,000.    On February 18, 2014, Hardman pleaded guilty to bribery, and he was sentenced on July 9, 2014, to serve 96 months in prison and ordered to forfeit $144,000.    On February 19, 2014, Michael P. McPhail pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery, and he was sentenced on August 5, 2014, to serve 36 months in prison and ordered to forfeit $57,000.    On March 5, 2014, Roderic J. Smith pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery, and he was sentenced on June 23, 2014, to serve 48 months in prison and ordered to forfeit $175,000.    On April 4, 2014, Adam C. White pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery, and he was sentenced on July 11, 2014, to serve 24 months in prison and ordered to forfeit $57,000.

The case was investigated by the FBI, NCIS and DCIS.    The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney Emily Rae Woods of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen W. Haynie of the Eastern District of Virginia.

Former U.S. Navy Military Sealift Command Manager Sentenced for Receiving Bribes

Kenny E. Toy, 54, the former Afloat Programs Manager at the United States Navy Military Sealift Command, was sentenced today to serve 96 months in prison for receiving bribes.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, United States Attorney Dana J. Boente of the Eastern District of Virginia, Special Agent in Charge Robert Craig of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) Mid-Atlantic Field Office, Acting Executive Assistant Director Charles T. May Jr. of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) Atlantic Operations and Special Agent in Charge Royce E. Curtin of the FBI’s Norfolk Field Office made the announcement today after sentencing by United States Chief Judge Rebecca Beach Smith of the Eastern District of Virginia.

On Feb. 12, 2014, Toy pleaded guilty to a criminal information charging him with one count of bribery.   According to the statement of facts filed with Toy’s plea agreement, Toy was employed as the Afloat Programs Manager in the N6 Command, Control, Communication, and Computer Systems Directorate at the Military Sealift Command, which is the leading provider of transportation for the United States Navy.  In approximately November 2004, Toy joined an extensive bribery conspiracy that spanned five years, involved multiple co-conspirators, including two different companies, and resulted in the payment of more than $265,000 in cash bribes, among other things of value, to Toy and to Scott B. Miserendino Sr., a former government contractor who performed work for the Military Sealift Command.

At his plea hearing, Toy admitted that he accepted monthly cash bribes of approximately $3,000, as well as a flat screen television and a paid vacation to the Outer Banks in North Carolina, from co-conspirators Dwayne A. Hardman, Roderic J. Smith, Michael P. McPhail and Adam C. White, all of whom were employed at a government contracting company referred to as Company A in court documents.  Toy also admitted that he accepted a $50,000 cash bribe in May 2009 from Hardman and another co-conspirator, Timothy S. Miller, both of whom were employed at a government contracting company referred to as Company B in court documents.  In exchange for the bribes, Toy provided favorable treatment to Company A and Company B in connection with Military Sealift Command related business.

As part of his guilty plea, Toy also admitted to engaging in a scheme to conceal his criminal activity.  Toy admitted to causing more than $88,000 to be paid to Hardman in an attempt to prevent Hardman from reporting the bribery scheme to law enforcement authorities.

Toy was also ordered to serve a supervised release term of three years following his prison sentence, and ordered to forfeit $100,000.

Earlier this year, four other individuals pleaded guilty in connection with the bribery scheme.  On Feb. 18, 2014, Hardman, the co-founder of Company A and Company B, pleaded guilty to providing bribes to Toy and Miserendino.   On Feb. 19, 2014, McPhail, a former employee at Company A, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery.   On April 4, 2014, White, a former vice president at Company A, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery.   On March 5, 2014, Smith, the former president of Company A, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to bribe public officials.   On June 23, 2014, United States District Judge Henry Coke Morgan sentenced Smith to serve 48 months in prison followed by one year of supervised release and ordered him to forfeit $175,000.

On May 23, 2014, a grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia indicted Miserendino and Timothy S. Miller, a businessman whose company sought contracting business from the Military Sealift Command.   The indictment charges Miserendino with one count of conspiracy to commit bribery, one count of bribery, one count of conspiracy to commit obstruction of criminal investigations and to commit tampering with a witness, and one count of obstruction of criminal investigations.   The indictment charges Miller with one count of conspiracy to commit bribery and two counts of bribery.   Trial is set for Sept. 30, 2014, before Chief Judge Rebecca Beach Smith.

Charges contained in an indictment are merely allegations, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The case was investigated by the FBI, NCIS and DCIS.   The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney Emily Rae Woods of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen W. Haynie of the Eastern District of Virginia.

Two Former Chesapeake, Virginia, Subcontractors Sentenced for Bribery, Conspiracy

Dwayne A. Hardman, 44, co-founder of two government contracting companies that sought business from the United States Navy Military Sealift Command (MSC), and Adam C. White, 40, former vice president and co-owner of one of Hardman’s government contracting companies, were sentenced for bribery and conspiracy.    On July 9, 2014, Hardman was sentenced to 96 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release.    White was sentenced today to serve 24 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release.    Hardman was ordered to forfeit $144,000, and White was ordered to forfeit $57,000.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, United States Attorney Dana J. Boente for the Eastern District of Virginia, Special Agent in Charge Royce E. Curtin of the FBI’s Norfolk Office, Acting Executive Assistant Director Charles T. May Jr. of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) and Special Agent in Charge Robert Craig of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) Mid-Atlantic Field Office made the announcement today after sentencing by United States Chief Judge Rebecca Beach Smith of the Eastern District of Virginia.
According to court documents, Hardman and White participated in a five-year bribery scheme in which they and several co-conspirators provided more than $265,000 in cash bribes, among other things, to two public officials working for MSC, in an illegal effort to influence those public officials to provide favorable treatment to Hardman and White’s companies in connection with United States government contracting work.
On Feb. 18, 2014, Hardman pleaded guilty to a criminal information charging him with bribery.    According to the plea documents, Hardman was the co-founder of two government contracting companies, referred to as Company A and Company B, located in Chesapeake, Virginia that sought contracting business from MSC, which is the leading provider of transportation for the United States Navy.  At his plea hearing, Hardman admitted that beginning in March 2005, he and other Company A employees, provided approximately $3,000 in cash bribes per month to two MSC public officials, Kenny E. Toy, the former Afloat Programs Manager for the MSC’s N6 Command, Control, Communication, and Computer Systems Directorate, and Scott B. Miserendino Sr., a former government contractor who performed work for the MSC.  Those Company A employees included Roderic J. Smith, the former president, co-owner and co-founder of Company A; Adam C. White, a former vice president and co-owner of Company A; and Michael P. McPhail a former project manager and co-owner of Company A.  Hardman also admitted that in May 2009, he and Timothy S. Miller, co-founder of Company B, provided $50,000 in cash bribes to Toy and Miserendino.    In addition to the cash bribes, Hardman stated that he and his co-conspirators provided Toy and Miserendino flat screen televisions, a paid vacation to Nags Head in North Carolina, a personal loan and installation of hardwood floors in Toy’s residence.
In exchange for these bribes, Toy and Miserendino provided favorable treatment in connection with MSC-related business to both Company A and Company B.  During the bribery scheme, Company A received approximately $3 million in MSC-related business, and Company B received approximately $2.4 million in MSC-related business.
As part of his guilty plea, Hardman also admitted that, in approximately November or December 2010, Hardman threatened to report the bribery activities to law enforcement authorities if his co-conspirators did not provide him money.    In total, Hardman admitted that he received approximately $85,000 from his co-conspirators, including Smith, Toy and Miserendino, in exchange for not reporting the bribery scheme to law enforcement authorities.
On April 4, 2014, White pleaded guilty to a criminal information charging him with conspiracy to commit bribery.    At his plea hearing, White admitted that from approximately April 2005 until approximately March 2006, he personally contributed approximately $26,000 in cash bribe payments for Toy and Miserendino, and White was aware that other co-conspirators, including Hardman, Smith and McPhail, were also contributing cash and other things of value to be provided to Toy and Miserendino in exchange for their official assistance in providing MSC-related business.
Earlier this year, three other individuals pleaded guilty in connection with the bribery scheme.    On Feb. 12, 2014, Toy, the former Afloat Programs Manager, pleaded guilty to accepting bribes from Hardman, White, and others.    On Feb. 19, 2014, McPhail pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery.    On March 5, 2014, Smith pleaded guilty to conspiracy to bribe public officials.
On June 23, 2014, United States District Judge Henry Coke Morgan of the Eastern District of Virginia sentenced Smith to 48 months in prison followed by 1 year of supervised release and ordered him to forfeit $175,000.
On May 23, 2014, a grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia indicted Miserendino and Miller.    The indictment charges Miserendino with one count of conspiracy to commit bribery, one count of bribery, one count of conspiracy to commit obstruction of criminal investigations and to commit tampering with a witness, and one count of obstruction of criminal investigations.    The indictment charges Miller with one count of conspiracy to commit bribery and two counts of bribery.    Trial is set for Sept. 30, 2014, before Chief Judge Rebecca Beach Smith of the Eastern District of Virginia.
The charges in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The case was investigated by Special Agents of the FBI, NCIS, and DCIS.    The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Emily Rae Woods of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen W. Haynie of the Eastern District of Virginia.

 

Virginia-Based Move Management Company Pays More Than $500,000 to Settle Overbilling Claims in Connection with Transportation of Personal Property in Relocating Federal Employees

Virginia-Based Move Management Company Pays More Than $500,000 to Settle Overbilling Claims in Connection with Transportation of Personal Property in Relocating Federal Employees

RE/MAX Allegiance Relocation Services, a Virginia-based move management company, has agreed to pay the government $509,807 to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by overbilling for transportation services, the Department of Justice announced today.

“Today’s settlement demonstrates our continuing vigilance to ensure that those doing business with the government do so legally and honestly and that taxpayer funds are not misused,” said Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division Stuart F. Delery.  “Government contractors who seek to profit at the expense of taxpayers will be held accountable.”

 

The settlement relates to allegations involving contracts to transport personal property of federal employees relocating duty stations within the United States and between the United States and Canada.  The government alleged that the defendant charged for move management services that were not provided and overbilled agencies on other moves by charging inapplicable tariff rates.

 

“We encourage whistleblowers to provide us with useful information to help us combat all manners of fraud on the U.S. Government,” said U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Dana J. Boente.

“We will continue to investigate allegations of federal contractors fraudulently maximizing their profits at the expense of American taxpayers,” said U.S. General Services Administration Acting Inspector General Robert C. Erickson.

The settlement resolves allegations filed in a lawsuit by Michael Angel, a former employee of RE/MAX Allegiance Relocation Services, in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia.  The lawsuit was filed under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act, which permit private individuals to sue on behalf of the government for false claims and to share in any recovery.  The act also allows the government to intervene and take over the action, as it did in this case.  Angel will receive $86,667.

The settlement was the result of a coordinated effort by the Civil Division of the Department of Justice, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, the General Services Administration Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General, Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector General and NASA Office of Inspector General.

The case is captioned United States ex rel. Michael Angel v. Franconia Real Estate Services, Inc., d/b/a RE/MAX Allegiance Relocation Services; No. 1:12cv764 (E.D.Va.).  The claims resolved by the settlement are allegations only; there has been no determination of liability.