Disgraced Congressman Randy ‘Duke’ Cunningham is a free man again

A federal judge says it is time to forgive Randy “Duke” Cunningham, the most corrupt member of Congress ever if measured by the amount of bribes he admitted accepting.

U.S. District Judge Larry Alan Burns has granted Cunningham’s request to have his post-prison supervision ended early, writing a final legal chapter on the sordid tale of the flamboyant ace fighter pilot who went to Congress as a hero in 1991 and left in 2005 as a disgraced felon.

The California Republican spent more than seven years in prison after pleading guilty in November 2005 to charges of tax evasion and conspiracy to commit bribery, mail fraud, and wire fraud. Cunningham, who was 64 when he was sentenced in March 2006, had used his positions on the House Appropriations and Intelligence committees to steer lucrative contracts to those who would help him finance an extravagant lifestyle featuring 19th-century French antiques, yachts, Persian rugs, hunting trips, a Rolls Royce, and a $2.55 million home in an exclusive community in San Diego County.

It all unraveled in 2005 when The San Diego Union-Tribune wrote about the corruption, triggering a federal probe that found, among many other things, that Cunningham had drawn up a “bribe menu” on congressional notepaper, outlining what bribes he would need to deliver a contract or earmark.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.govexec.com/oversight/2014/07/disgraced-congressman-randy-duke-cunningham-free-man-again/88513/

Despite fraud allegations, Adams Produce awarded $41 million government contract one month before 2012 bankruptcy

Nearly two months before Adams Produce closed its doors and declared bankruptcy in April 2012, the long-time Birmingham, Alabama company was awarded a government contract, worth up to $41 million, to provide fruits and vegetables to schools and the military.

Adams Produce got the contract from the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) despite questions raised by a former Adams employee, Charles Hall, in a 2009 lawsuit that claimed the company had fraudulently billed the agency on a previous contract, records show.

Federal prosecutors were aware of the whistleblower allegations prior to the 2012 contract, court documents show. Also, by June 2012, the FBI had had begun investigating top Adams Company officials involving overcharging DLA on fruit and vegetable contracts, according to court records.

Seven executives of the now-shuttered Adams have been charged so far in a billing fraud scheme, with five already serving prison sentences.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.al.com/news/birmingham/index.ssf/2014/06/adams_produce_awarded_41_milli.html

See timeline on Adams Produce history, its bankruptcy, and the fraud allegations here: http://www.al.com/news/birmingham/index.ssf/2014/06/adams_produce_timeline_slow_ri.html

Scam targets GSA schedule holders using spoofed federal email addresses

The General Services Administration’s schedules program has been victimized by spear phishing attacks costing vendors more than $1.5 million, and law enforcement officials say, is increasing.

GSA alerted Schedule 70 and 75 vendors Wednesday that since July 2012 the FBI, the Environmental Protection Agency and GSA inspectors general have been investigating a series of fraudulent orders placed online to GSA vendors from criminals posing as federal contracting officials, according to an email to Schedule-70 and 75 vendors, which Federal News Radio obtained.

The hackers ordered HP printer toner cartridges using official federal employee email credentials but fake phone telephone numbers and stolen credit cards.

Law enforcement officials now say scammers are targeting orders for laptop computers, though it’s unclear if these two cases are related. But GSA said “there are some significant similarities and we’re following up on investigative leads to make further determinations.”

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federalnewsradio.com/490/3595717/Scam-targets-GSA-schedule-holders-using-spoofed-federal-email-addresses 

Former Navy contractor will plead guilty to Singapore bribery-kickback scheme

A former government contracts manager at Singapore-based Glenn Defense Marine, whose chief executive officer is accused of bribing a U.S. Navy commander with cash and prostitutes, will plead guilty, according to a court filing and a federal prosecutor.

Alex Wisidagama, the company’s ex-general manager of government contracts, initially pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiring to overcharge the Navy for servicing ships and submarines. He will change his plea on March 18, Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Huie in San Diego said by phone today (Mar. 14, 2014). A change of plea hearing is scheduled for that afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jan Adler, according to a court filing.

A U.S. Navy commander, a Naval Criminal Investigative Service agent and the head of Glenn Defense Marine, which has provided hundreds of millions of dollars in goods and services for American ships in at least a dozen countries in Asia, have been charged by federal prosecutors with taking part in a bribery-kickback scheme involving prostitutes.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-03-15/ex-glenn-defense-marine-manager-will-plead-guilty-u-s-.html 

 

False Claims Act filing requirements trump shipping rule, whistleblower case reinstated

A federal appeals court has reinstated a whistleblower lawsuit brought in 2008 against shipping company DHL Express.

Kevin Grupp and Robert Moll alleged DHL improperly billed the federal government for jet fuel surcharges on ground shipments. DHL had won dismissal at the trial court, the federal court in Buffalo, but on Feb. 5 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reversed that ruling.

Judge Ralph Winter authored the opinion for the Second Circuit. He wrote that a rule that requires challenges to shipping disputes to be brought within 180 days does not apply to False Claims Act cases.

“Application of the 180-day rule would completely nullify the tolling allowance as the Government is often unlikely to become award of fraud immediately following the violation,” Winter wrote.

Keep reading this article at: http://legalnewsline.com/news/federal-government/247130-false-claims-act-filing-requirements-trump-shipping-rule-whistleblower-case-reinstated 

Audit planned in fraud case as Navy reinstates shipper

The Navy has quietly lifted the suspension of a shipping contractor under investigation for possible fraud, allowing the company to compete for new work. In exchange, the company has agreed to pay for an independent audit that could help the Justice Department determine how much it may have overcharged the government.

Records show that the Navy recently decided to reinstate Inchcape Shipping Services, a company based in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. The move came after a federal judge questioned whether the service had presented enough evidence to justify the suspension.

Contracting experts said it was unusual for the government to turn to an outside auditor in this type of case, and some questioned whether an independent firm could do as thorough a job.

The auditing firm must be approved by the Justice Department, which is conducting a civil fraud inquiry into whether the company systematically overcharged the Navy in providing provisions and sewage-removal services for warships in the Middle East and Africa. Officials said the audit could help spur settlement talks between Inchcape and the Justice Department.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/01/us/navy-contractor.html?_r=0 

Top contractor for background checks charged with fraud

The contractor that performed federal background checks on such headline personalities as National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden and Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis has been accused of fraud by the Justice Department.

Falls Church, Va.,-based USIS, which had already been the subject of a False Claims Act suit filed by former employee Blake Percival, drew the intervention from Justice’s Civil Division because it “failed to perform quality control reviews in connection with its background investigations for the U.S. Office of Personnel Management,” Justice said in a complaint filed Wednesday.

Under the False Claims Act’s qui tam, or whistleblower provisions, a private party is eligible to sue on the government’s behalf and may receive a financial settlement. After a preliminary investigation of Percival’s claims, the department asked a U.S. District Court in Alabama to allow it to file its own complaint against USIS by Jan. 22, 2014.

“We will not tolerate shortcuts taken by companies that we have entrusted with vetting individuals to be given access to our country’s sensitive and secret information,” Assistant Attorney General Stuart Delery said in the complaint, which was prepared last fall. “The Justice Department will take action against those who charge the taxpayers for services they failed to provide, especially when their nonperformance could place our country’s security at risk.”

Keep reading this article at: http://www.govexec.com/contracting/2014/01/top-contractor-background-checks-charged-fraud/77453/?oref=govexec_today_nl

Sham charged in $1.2 million veteran business fraud

A Bergen County, N.J., woman was arrested on January 8, 2014 on charges that she fraudulently represented her company as a service-disabled veteran-owned small business in order to obtain more than $1.2 million worth of government contracts set aside for disabled veterans, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Miriam Friedman, 54, of Teaneck, N.J., surrendered to special agents from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Office of the Inspector General, as a result of a federal criminal complaint charging her with wire fraud. She is scheduled to make her initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge James B. Clark III in Newark federal court.

According to the unsealed complaint:

Friedman is the owner of Office Dimensions Inc., a company in Teaneck that sells furniture and design services to industrial and government customers. Friedman and her husband control Office Dimensions and all its revenues, as well as run the company’s daily operations. Neither served in the U.S. military, but Friedman’s father-in-law is a retired U.S. military veteran.

On Nov. 23, 2009, Friedman certified in a central registry for government contractors that Office Dimensions was a service-disabled veteran-owned small business. In her certification, she allegedly falsely claimed that her father-in-law was the owner and operator, even though he had very little involvement with Office Dimensions and was not service-disabled. Friedman then bid for VA contracts set aside for service-disabled veterans who own their businesses.

From January 2010 through November 2011, the VA paid Office Dimensions more than $1.2 million on fraudulently obtained contracts to which Friedman was not entitled.

The wire fraud count with which Friedman was charged is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross loss or gain cause by the offense.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of the Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey G. Hughes; the U.S. General Services Administration, Office of the Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James E. Adams; and IRS – Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Shantelle P. Kitchen, for the investigation leading to today’s arrest.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott B. McBride of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Health Care and Government Fraud Unit in Newark.

The charges and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations and the defendant is considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.

See District of New Jersey U.S. Attorney Office’s press release at: http://www.justice.gov/usao/nj/Press/files/Friedman,%20Miriam%20Arrest%20News%20Release.html

Navy Secretary Mabus expects bribery scandal to widen

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said Friday that he bluntly told criminal investigators to pursue a widening bribery scandal “wherever it leads” and that he expects more people to get swept up in a case that has already tarred several senior officers and exposed an international, multimillion-dollar fraud scheme.

“I certainly don’t think we’ve seen the end of it,” Mabus told reporters at the Pentagon in his first public comments on the scandal since it came to light in September. “I would rather get bad headlines than let bad people get away.”

Mabus, the Navy’s top civilian official since 2009, spoke a day after he held an unusual video conference with the Navy’s fleet commanders and other admirals around the world to emphasize the need to uphold ethical standards and prevent contracting fraud. With the scandal showing no sign of abating, he also has ordered several reviews and an audit into how the Navy pays for port services.

The Navy has been tarnished by a succession of embarrassing revelations over the past three months about its relationship with a major foreign defense contractor, Singapore-based Glenn Defense Marine Asia, that has provided port services to U.S. ships and submarines in the Pacific for a quarter-century.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/navy-secretary-mabus-expects-bribery-scandal-to-widen/2013/12/20/c85f8ece-6990-11e3-8b5b-a77187b716a3_story.html 

 

Asian defense contractor linked to Navy bribery scandal

The U.S. Navy is being rocked by a bribery scandal that federal investigators say has reached high into the officer corps and exposed a massive overbilling scheme run by an Asian defense contractor that provided prostitutes and other kickbacks.

Among those arrested on corruption charges are a senior agent for the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and a Navy commander who escaped Cambodia’s “killing fields” as a child only to make a triumphant return to the country decades later as the skipper of a U.S. destroyer. The investigation has also ensnared a Navy captain who was relieved of his ship’s command this month in Japan.

The chief executive of the Singapore-based defense contractor, Glenn Defense Marine Asia, and another company official were arrested last month at a San Diego harborside hotel after federal investigators lured them to the United States by arranging a sham meeting with Navy officials, according to court records and people involved in the case.

The unfolding investigation is shaping up as the biggest fraud case in years for the Navy. Federal prosecutors allege that Glenn Defense Marine, which has serviced and supplied Navy ships and submarines at ports around the Pacific for a quarter-century, routinely overbilled for everything from tugboats to fuel to sewage disposal.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/senior-officer-ncis-agent-are-among-those-arrested-in-navy-bribery-scandal/2013/10/19/e9a1e9b6-3753-11e3-bda2-e637e3241dc8_story.html