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.

U.S. Navy Petty Officer Based in Japan Pleads Guilty in International Bribery Scandal

U.S. Navy Petty Officer First Class Daniel Layug pleaded guilty in the Southern District of California today to accepting more than $10,000 in cash, consumer electronics and travel expenses from a foreign defense contractor in exchange for classified and internal Navy information.
Acting Assistant Attorney General David A. O’Neil of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Laura 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.

Layug, 27, entered his plea before U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen S. Crawford to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery.  He is the sixth defendant charged – and the third to plead guilty – in the alleged bribery scheme involving Singapore-based defense contractor Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA), which provided port services to U.S. Navy ships in the Asia Pacific region.

“Today, U.S. Navy Petty Officer First Class Dan Layug admitted that he swapped classified U.S. Navy information for cash, luxury travel perks and electronic gadgets from a defense contractor,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General O’Neil.  “In taking these under-the-table bribes, Layug put his own financial interests above those of the Navy and the country he vowed to serve.  The Criminal Division, with our law enforcement partners, is committed to holding responsible those who were part of this massive fraud and bribery scheme that cost the U.S. Navy more than $20 million.”

“Every service member is entrusted with the enormous responsibility of protecting this country at all costs,” said U.S. Attorney Duffy.  “Because of greed, Daniel Layug fell woefully short of that high calling, and this guilty plea holds him accountable for a painful betrayal.”

“The guilty plea of U.S. Navy Petty Officer First Class Dan Layug is part of an ongoing effort by the Defense Criminal Investigative Service and its law enforcement partners to bring to justice individuals who seek to enrich themselves at the expense of U.S. taxpayers,” said Deputy Inspector General Burch.  “While the conduct of the vast majority of service members is beyond reproach, Defense Criminal Investigative Service will vigorously pursue individuals who betray the trust bestowed upon them.”

“Petty Officer Layug sold sensitive Navy information for monetary gain,” said NCIS Director Traver.  “In doing so, he compromised the integrity of his position and the safety of his shipmates. NCIS will continue to work with DCIS and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in investigating and prosecuting these crimes to the fullest extent possible.”

According to allegations in court documents, GDMA owner and CEO Leonard Glenn Francis and his cousin, GDMA executive Alex Wisidigama, enlisted the clandestine assistance of Navy personnel – including Layug, Commander Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz, Commander Jose Luis Sanchez, and Naval Criminal Investigative Service Special Agent John Beliveau – to provide classified ship schedules and other sensitive U.S. Navy information in exchange for cash, travel expenses, and consumer electronics.   GDMA allegedly overcharged the Navy under its contracts and submitted bogus invoices for more than $20 million in port services.

Court records state that Layug worked secretly on behalf of GDMA, using his position as a logistics specialist at a U.S. Navy facility in Yokosuka, Japan, to gain access to classified U.S. Navy ship schedules and then provided this information to GDMA’s vice president of global operations.  Layug admitted he also provided pricing information from one of GDMA’s competitors.

In return, according to the plea agreement, GDMA gave Layug envelopes of cash on a regular basis.  Layug admitted that he accepted a $1,000 monthly allowance from GDMA.   On May 21, 2012, GDMA’s 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 $1,000. You may pay him the equivalent in Yen.  He will come by the office at the end of each month to see you.”    Layug also admitted that he received luxury hotel stays for himself and others in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Hong Kong and Thailand.

Further according to the plea agreement, Layug asked GDMA for consumer electronics.  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? Please let me know.”  In the plea agreement, Layug admitted that GDMA then provided him with an iPad 3.

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!”

Francis was previously charged with conspiring to bribe U.S. Navy officials.  Wisidagama 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 GDMA.  On Dec. 17, 2013, NCIS Supervisory Special Agent John Bertrand Beliveau II, 44, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and bribery charges for regularly tipping off Francis to the status of the government’s investigation into GDMA.

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 Director of Procurement Fraud Catherine Votaw and Trial Attorneys Brian Young and Wade Weems of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mark W. Pletcher and Robert Huie of the Southern District of California.

Phillip Zane’s Game Theory: Ten Years On

Ten years ago this spring, Zane published his definitive work on game theory which changed the way law-and-economics scholars and sophisticated prosecutors and defense counsel analyze whether, when, and how corporations and executive management teams should disclose white collar criminal conduct.

Phillip Zane be the only attorney whose colleagues and clients might expect to see an open book on games and strategy on his desk.

Ten years ago this spring, Zane published The Price Fixer’s Dilemma:  Applying Game Theory to the Decision of Whether to Plead Guilty to Antitrust Crimes, 48 Antitrust Bull. 1 (2003), which changed the way law-and-economics scholars and sophisticated prosecutors and defense counsel analyze whether, and when, to settle high-stakes antitrust cases.

Zane’s article strongly suggested that in a number of common situations, pleading guilty (or even seeking the protections of the corporate leniency program) is not always justified.  Zane’s article used a repeated, or iterative, version of the prisoner’s dilemma to demonstrate that pleading guilty was not always the best strategy for antitrust defendants facing criminal prosecution and civil liability in multiple proceedings or jurisdictions.

At the time, a few of the brainier Antitrust Division prosecutors breathed a sigh of relief when the defense bar did not seem to notice and they failed to incorporate Zane’s research into their negotiating strategies.

In 2007, Zane published “An Introduction to Game Theory for Antitrust Lawyers,” which he used in a unit of an antitrust class he taught at George Mason University School of Law. That paper was another milestone on the way to making game theory concepts accessible and useful to the antitrust defense bar.

Zane’s work, which now used game theory to criticize the settlement of the second Microsoft case and the Government’s approach to conscious parallelism, as well as the leniency program, was met with official grumblings within the Antitrust Division.

GeyerGorey LLP was founded on the principle that the chances for achieving the best possible outcome are maximized by having access to multiple, top-notch, cross-disciplinary legal minds that are synced together by an organizational and compensation structure that encourages sharing of ideas and information in client relationships.

As international enforcement agencies sprouted and developed criminal capabilities and as more hybrid matters included prosecutors from US enforcement agency components with sometimes overlapping jurisdictions, such as the Antitrust, Criminal, Civil and Tax Divisions of the Department of Justice, and the alphabet soup of regulatory agencies, particularly the Securities and Exchange Commission, it became apparent that Zane’s game-theoretic approach has application in almost every significant decision we could be called upon to make.  Since Zane has joined us we have been working to factor in the increased risks associated with what we call hybrid conduct (conduct that violates more than a single statute).  Our tools of analysis for identifying risks for violations of competition laws, anti-corruption laws, anti-money-laundering laws, and other prohibitions, include sophisticated game-theoretic techniques, as well as, of course, the noses of former seasoned prosecutors, taking into account, each particular client’s tolerance for risk.

To take one example, an internal investigation might show both possible price fixing and bribery of foreign government officials.  How, given the potential for multiple prosecutions, should decisions to defend or cooperate be assessed?  And how might such decisions trigger interest by the Tax Division, the SEC, the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission or other regulators.  When should a corporation launch an internal investigation?  When should it make a mandatory disclosure?  What should it disclose and to which agency, in what order?  When should it seek leniency and when should it instead stand silent?  These tools are valuable in the civil context as well:  When should it abandon a proposed merger or instead oppose an enforcement agency’s challenge to a proposed deal?

These are truly the most difficult questions a lawyer advising large corporations is required to address.  We are well positioned to help answer these questions.

Teresa C. Zalcman, the first Vietnamese-American United States Department of Justice prosecutor, joins GeyerGorey LLP.

GeyerGorey LLP today announced that Teresa Zalcman (nee Clinton) has become a Senior Advisor to the firm.  Ms. Zalcman was the first Vietnamese-American to serve as a prosecutor with the United States Department of Justice.  Her affiliation with GeyerGorey LLP complements the firm’s efforts to provide companies with advice on compliance with federal criminal laws and regulations, in detecting wrongdoing by corporate employees and in providing full-scope, white-collar criminal defense where prevention and mitigation measures fail.
Ms. Zalcman immigrated to the United States in 1968.  She is a graduate of the University of California at Davis and received her law degree from Howard University before being hired by the Department of Justice under the Attorney General’s Honor’s Program.
Ms. Zalcman has been engaged professionally in recent years as an investment adviser and money manager.   She bides her time among three cities, New York, Los Angeles and Nha Trang.
Ms. Zalcman has maintained extensive contacts within Vietnam and travels throughout the country on a regular basis.  She will be a great asset to American companies seeking to enter the Vietnamese market, as well as to Vietnamese companies that wish to market their products in the United States.

Former U.S. Army Corps Of Engineers Employee Sentenced To 13 Years In Prison For Multimillion-Dollar Bribery, Kickback Scheme

At Least $50 Million in Iraq Construction Contracts Involved

NEWARK, N.J. – A former U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Project Engineer deployed to Tikrit, Iraq, during Operation Iraqi Freedom was sentenced today to 156 months in prison for taking at least $3.7 million in bribes and kickbacks in connection with more than $50 million in USACE contracts awarded to foreign companies in Gulf Region North, Iraq, New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Egyptian-born U.S. citizen John Alfy Salama Markus, 40, of Nazareth, Pa., previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Jose L. Linares to three counts of a 54-count Indictment returned in July 2011 charging him with wire fraud, conspiracy to commit bribery and to defraud the U.S. government, money laundering and tax offenses. Two other USACE employees and two foreign contractors also were charged in the July 2011 Indictment. Judge Linares imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.

“The Court’s lengthy sentence recognizes the significant harm Salama Markus caused when he corrupted tens of millions in Iraq construction contracts by treating projects to secure safe access to fuel, electricity, education and medical treatment as opportunities for illegally amassing personal wealth,” U.S. Attorney Fishman said. “Bribes should not be the cost of doing business with the United States. They violate our laws and unfairly tarnish those who serve our country with honor.”

“By accepting bribes and corrupting the acquisition process while deployed to a combat theater, Mr. Salama Markus failed in his duty to his country and betrayed his position of trust for personal greed, depriving the U.S. taxpayers of his honest service,” Acting Special Agent in Charge Craig W. Rupert, DCIS Northeast Field Office, said. “The Defense Criminal Investigative Service continues to aggressively root out corruption and fraud impacting our warfighters and to safeguard the proper use of U.S. taxpayer dollars.”

“Today’s sentencing of Salama Markus is a direct result of the excellent relationship IRS has with our law enforcement partners in combating violations of federal law,” Shantelle P. Kitchen, Acting Special Agent in Charge, IRS-Criminal Investigation, Newark Field Office, said. “This sentence should send a clear message: illegally lining your own pocket for personal financial gain will not be tolerated, and individuals like Mr. Markus will be punished for their crimes.”

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

From July 2007 to June 2008, Salama Markus accepted at least $3.7 million in bribe and kickback payments in connection with USACE contracts awarded to multiple companies associated with two foreign contractors named in the Indictment – Ahmed Nouri, a/k/a “Ahmed Bahjat,” 42, a citizen of Great Britain residing in Greece and Iraq and the former vice president of Operations for Iraqi Consultants & Construction Bureau (“ICCB”); and Mithaq Al-Fahal, a/k/a “Mithaq Mahmood Al-Fahal,” 38, an Iraqi citizen who was a senior project manager at Sakar Al-Fahal and controlled Dar Al Jubori Co. From September 2005 to July 2008, Salama Markus was assigned to Tikrit as a project engineer, where he and his co-worker, Onisem Gomez, were involved in the review and award process for contractors seeking lucrative USACE contracts in Gulf Region North, Iraq, as well as the administration, oversight and modification of such contracts, post-award.

Salama Markus admitted that he devised a scheme to provide favorable official action and assistance to co-conspirators Nouri and Al-Fahal for the benefit of their associated companies, including obtaining and disseminating confidential bid and internal USACE pricing information to individuals seeking the award of USACE contracts to their companies, and approving lucrative payments to these companies. All of these actions were taken in exchange for bribes and kickbacks that Salama Markus accepted from foreign contractors. Salama Markus also admitted paying more than $100,000 in bribe money received by Gomez.

Salama Markus opened or established control over multiple foreign bank accounts in Jordan and Egypt to receive illegal bribe and kickback payments that he took from foreign contractors in connection with USACE contracts awarded. With respect to some of these USACE contracts, Salama Markus created, maintained and sent via email to foreign contractors spreadsheets and other records detailing: (a) the value of USACE contracts awarded; (b) the percentage of those contracts that Salama Markus solicited and demanded; (c) the payments – whether by installment or lump sum – made to Salama Markus by foreign contractors in connection with the award of USACE contracts; and (d) in some cases, the date on which these illegal payments were accepted in cash or deposited into Salama Markus’ foreign bank accounts. A single page of one spreadsheet created by Salama Markus in July 2008 reflected his demand and acceptance of bribe payments totaling $1,958,500, or 10 percent of the contract value, from co-conspirator Al-Fahal in connection with the award to companies associated with Al-Fahal of $19,580,000 in contracts for the construction of segments of the Baghdad to Bayji Pipeline.

Salama Markus used the foreign bank accounts under his control to receive and transfer bribe and kickback payments from foreign contractors to at least 11 bank accounts opened, established and controlled by Salama Markus in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Salama Markus also transferred bribe and kickback money to co-conspirator Gomez.

Salama Markus admitted that with the proceeds of his wire fraud scheme and bribery offenses he paid for the construction of a custom-built home in Nazareth, which was worth $1.1 million. He admitted that on Oct. 16, 2008, the date of settlement, he obtained a cashier’s check drawn on a Bank of America account for $850,807.54 made out to a title company in connection with the construction of the Nazareth home.

Salama Markus also admitted that, for calendar year 2009, he failed to file with the U.S. Department of Treasury a Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR), disclosing that he had a financial interest in, and signature and other authority over, certain financial accounts in foreign countries, including Jordan.

Salama Markus agreed to the entry of a forfeiture money judgment in the amount of at least $3.7 million, a portion of which will be satisfied by his forfeiture of the Nazareth residence, as well as his forfeiture of five vehicles and two motorcycles.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Linares sentenced Salama Markus to three years of supervised release, fined him $75,000 and ordered him to cooperate with the IRS concerning the payment of taxes and penalties.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of DCIS, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Craig W. Rupert, Acting Special Agent-in-Charge of the Northeast Field Office of the U.S. Department of Defense, Office of the Inspector General, Defense Criminal Investigative Service; IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Shantelle P. Kitchen with the investigation leading to today’s sentence. He also thanked special agents of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Andrew McLees; and the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, Mid-Atlantic Fraud Field Office, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge William J. Stakes Jr., for their work in the ongoing investigation.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sandra L. Moser and Vikas Khanna of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Special Prosecutions Division in Newark.

Former U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Pleads Guilty in Tennessee to Bribery Scheme

A former U.S. Army staff sergeant pleaded guilty today to accepting thousands of dollars in bribes from contractors while he was deployed to Iraq, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee William C. Killian.

Richard A. Gilliland, 44, of Fayetteville, Tenn., pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan K. Lee in the Eastern District of Tennessee to a criminal information charging him with one count of conspiracy to accept illegal bribes.

According to court documents, from October 2007 until November 2008, Gilliland was a U.S. Army staff sergeant who worked with the Civil Affairs Unit at Camp Victory in Iraq and also was assigned as a pay agent responsible for U.S. government funds.  As a pay agent, Gilliland was responsible for paying contractors to perform work in accordance with civil development objectives set forth by U.S. Army commanders in furtherance of the strategic mission of Coalition Forces in Iraq.

While deployed to Iraq in October 2007, Gilliland worked closely with two Iraqi contracting companies and their American representatives.  Gilliland admitted to receiving approximately $27,200 and a laptop in bribes from American representatives of the contracting companies in return for his attempt to influence contracts for the Iraqi-based contractors and his assistance in acquiring used and non-working generators from the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Office.  After receiving the bribes, Gilliland wired the cash payments he received back to the United States.

The case is being prosecuted by Special Trial Attorney Mark Grider of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, on detail from the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR), and Assistant U.S. Attorney John MacCoon of the Eastern District of Tennessee.  The case was investigated by SIGIR.

Former Department of Defense Contractor Sentenced to 30 Months in Prison for Smuggling Kickback Proceeds from Afghanistan to the United States

A former employee of a Department of Defense contracting company at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, was sentenced today to serve 30 months in prison for attempting to smuggle $150,000 in kickback proceeds he received for steering U.S. government subcontracts to an Afghan company, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom of the District of Kansas.

 Donald Gene Garst, 51, of Topeka, Kan., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Julie A. Robinson in Topeka.  In addition to his prison term, Garst was sentenced to serve one year of supervised release and was ordered to pay a fine of $52,117.  The department previously forfeited the $150,000 Garst had attempted to smuggle into the United States.

Garst pleaded guilty on Nov. 9, 2012, to a one-count information charging him with bulk cash smuggling.  According to court documents, Garst was employed by a private U.S. company that was contracted by the U.S. government and its armed forces at Bagram Airfield from January 2009 to May 2011.  Garst was involved in identifying, evaluating and monitoring subcontracts awarded to Afghan companies by his employer, and he used his position to meet executives of an Afghan construction company called Somo Logistics.  Garst then entered into an agreement with the Afghans under which he would receive kickback payments on a contract-by-contract basis in return for treating Somo Logisitcs favorably in the contracting process.

In December 2010, Garst accepted a kickback for $60,000 on the first subcontract awarded to Somo Logistics.  The subcontract was for the term lease of heavy equipment meant to be used for construction on Bagram Airfield.  Garst hand-carried approximately $20,000 of the kickback proceeds into the United States, and he received the remainder via a series of structured wire transfers from Somo Logistics executives.

In May 2011, Garst accepted a $150,000 kickback for a second subcontract for the lease of heavy construction equipment.  Garst shipped the $150,000 in cash to the United States, and his failure to declare the value of the shipment was discovered by law enforcement.

Garst had further agreed to receive $400,000 on a third subcontract, but his scheme was discovered by law enforcement before he could receive that payment.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jared Maag and Trial Attorney Wade Weems of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.  The case was investigated by Special Agents with the Army Criminal Investigations Division and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, with assistance from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction and the FBI.

Georgia Men Plead Guilty to Bribing Official to Secure Government Contracts Defendants Admit to Overcharging Defense Department More Than $900,000

WASHINGTON – Two men employed by a machine products vendor in Albany, Ga., have pleaded guilty to bribing a public official working for a military organization at the Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany (MCLB-Albany) to secure contracts for machine products, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Michael J. Moore for the Middle District of Georgia.

Thomas J. Cole Jr., 43, and Fredrick W. Simon, 55, both of Albany, each pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge W. Louis Sands in the Middle District of Georgia to one count of bribery of a public official.

During their guilty pleas, Cole, the general manager of an Albany-based machine products vendor, and Simon, an employee responsible for processing sales orders, admitted to participating in a scheme to secure sales order contracts from the Maintenance Center Albany (MCA) at MCLB-Albany by subverting a competitive bid process.  The MCA is responsible for rebuilding and repairing ground combat and combat support equipment, much of which has been utilized in military missions in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as other parts of the world.  To accomplish the scheme, Cole and Simon bribed a MCA purchase tech responsible for placing machine product orders.  Cole and Simon admitted to participating in the scheme at the purchase tech’s suggestion, after Simon had spoken with the purchase tech about how his company could obtain business from the MCA.  Cole and Simon admitted that, at the purchase tech’s request, they paid the purchase tech a bribe of at least $75 for each of the more than 1,000 sales orders MCA placed with their company.  According to court documents, the purchase tech would transmit sales bids to Simon and then communicate privately to him exactly how much money the company should bid for each particular order.  Cole and Simon admitted that these orders were extremely profitable, often times exceeding the fair market value of the machine products, sometimes by as much as 1,000 percent.

Cole and Simon further admitted that, at the purchase tech’s urging, in 2011 they began routing some orders through a second company, owned by Cole, because the volume of orders MCA placed with the first company was so high.  They also admitted that the purchase tech increased the bribe required for orders as the scheme progressed.  Cole and Simon admitted to paying the purchase tech approximately $161,000 in bribes during the nearly two-year scheme.  Cole admitted to personally receiving approximately $209,000 in proceeds from the scheme; Simon admitted to personally receiving approximately $74,500.  Both admitted that the total loss to the Department of Defense from overcharges associated with the machine product orders placed during the scheme was approximately $907,000.

At sentencing, Cole and Simon each face a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a fine of not more than twice the pecuniary loss to the government.  As part of their plea agreements with the United States, Cole and Simon both agreed to forfeit the proceeds they received from the scheme, as well as to pay full restitution to the Department of Defense.  Sentencing has not yet been scheduled.

The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Richard B. Evans and J.P. Cooney of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney K. Alan Dasher of the Middle District of Georgia.  The case is being investigated by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, with assistance from the Dougherty County District Attorney’s Office Economic Crime Unit and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service.

U.S. Army Major Pleads Guilty in South Carolina to Defrauding U.S. Government

WASHINGTON – A U.S. Army Major has pleaded guilty today to accepting thousands of dollars in gratuities from contractors while he was a U.S. Army captain deployed to Iraq, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney for the District of South Carolina William N. Nettles.

Ulysses S. Hicks, 40, of Sumter, S.C., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Chief Judge Margaret B. Seymour in the District of South Carolina to a criminal information charging him with one count of conspiracy to accept illegal gratuities.

According to court documents, Hicks was a captain in the U.S. Army, who was deployed to Forward Operating Base (FOB) Hammer in Iraq as a pay agent for field ordering officer (FOO) funds.  FOO funds are used to purchase miscellaneous items and supplies such as paint, lumber and plywood from local vendors.  It is a violation of federal law for pay agents to accept gratuities from contractors dependent upon them for contracts.

From about March 2007 through October 2008, Hicks, along with co-conspirator former U.S. Army Master Sergeant Julio Soto Jr., was involved with the construction of a government building at FOB Hammer by local Iraqi contractors.  According to court documents, Hicks and Soto unlawfully sought, received and accepted illegal gratuities for helping Iraqi contractors gain U.S. government contracts.  After accepting the illegal gratuities, Hicks and Soto purchased U.S. Postal money orders with the illegal proceeds and mailed them back to the United States.

At sentencing, Hicks faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison, a fine of $250,000 and up to three years of supervised release.  As part of his plea agreement, Hicks agreed to pay $65,409 plus interest in restitution to the United States.

Soto pleaded guilty on Aug. 29, 2012, before U.S. District Chief Judge Seymour to a criminal information charging him with one count of conspiracy to accept illegal gratuities.  On Dec. 7, 2012, Soto was sentenced to serve five years of probation and ordered to pay $62,542 in restitution.

This case is being prosecuted by Special Trial Attorney Mark Grider of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, on detail from the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR), and by Assistant U.S. Attorney Winston Holliday, Deputy Chief of the General Crimes Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina.  The case was investigated by SIGIR, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service and the Major Procurement Fraud Unit of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command.

British Contractor Agrees to Plead Guilty to Wire Fraud Conspiracy Related to Iraq Reconstruction Efforts

Monday, December 10, 2012
British Contractor Agrees to Plead Guilty to Wire Fraud Conspiracy Related to Iraq Reconstruction Efforts

WASHINGTON – British contractor APTx Vehicle Systems Limited agreed today to plead guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States, the Coalition Provisional Authority that governed Iraq from April 2003 to June 2004, the government of Iraq and JP Morgan Chase Bank.  A civil settlement agreement resolving a related action filed under the False Claims Act was also announced today.

APTx was charged with one count of wire fraud conspiracy in a criminal information filed today in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts.  As part of the plea agreement filed with the information, APTx agreed to pay a criminal fine of $1 million.

The charges and resolutions were announced today by Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart F. Delery of the Justice Department’s Civil Division and U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts Carmen M. Ortiz.

According to the criminal information, APTx engaged in a fraudulent scheme involving an August 2004 contract valued at over $8.4 million for the procurement of 51 vehicles for the Iraqi Police Authority.  The contract was initially awarded to a different, “prime” contractor, which in turn subcontracted the procurement to APTx for over $5.7 million.  Payment under the contract was by letters of credit issued by JP Morgan Bank.

The criminal information further charges that in May and June 2005, APTx submitted shipping documents to JP Morgan to draw down on the letters of credit, which falsely and fraudulently asserted that all 51 vehicles were produced and ready to ship to Iraq.   In fact, as APTx knew, none of the vehicles had been built, none of the vehicles were legally owned or held by APTx and none of the vehicles were in the process of transport to Iraq.  The fraudulent shipping documents also listed a company as the freight carrier that APTx knew was not a shipping company and named a fictitious company as the freight forwarder.

In a related civil settlement agreement, APTx, along with Alchemie Grp Ltd., a United Kingdom corporation, and Haslen Back, the director and shareholder of Alchemie, agreed to pay $2 million to the United States to resolve claims originated by Ian Rycroft, an individual retained by the prime contractor to oversee transportation of the vehicles, under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act in the District of Massachusetts.  The False Claims Act authorizes private whistleblowers to bring suit for false claims submitted to the United States and to share in any recovery.  Rycroft’s estate will receive $540,000 as its share of the settlement amount.

Benjamin Kafka, a representative for APTx in the United States, was charged on April 13, 2009, with one count of misprision of a felony in connection with his role in the wire fraud conspiracy.  According to court documents, Kafka allegedly allowed APTx to use his corporate name and identity as the freight carrier and freight forwarder on the fraudulent shipping documents presented to JP Morgan.

The criminal case is being prosecuted by Director of Procurement Fraud Catherine Votaw and Trial Attorney William H. Bowne III of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, and by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Eugenia M. Carris and Jeffrey Cohen of the District of Massachusetts.  The civil case is being handled by Trial Attorney Diana Younts of the Civil Division, and by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christine Wichers of the District of Massachusetts.  The investigation was conducted by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service Boston Resident Agency and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations in Washington, D.C.