VA contracting official resigns amid agency’s attempt to fire her

A top Department of Veterans Affairs contracting officer who allegedly steered work to a Virginia firm resigned Tuesday, eight days after the agency announced that it had begun the process of firing her.

Susan Taylor, the Veteran Health Administration’s No. 2 contracting official, said in an e-mail to employees that she decided to “resign and retire,” effective Oct. 14. She has worked with the federal government for 29 years, spending four of them with the VA.

“I will definitely miss the terrific staff I have had at VHA, both at headquarters and in the field nationwide, but I know that you will continue to admirably serve our veterans through your dedicated service,” Taylor wrote. She also indicated that the VA is trying to recruit a replacement for her.

The VA inspector general’s office said in a report last month that Taylor helped steer a contract to Vienna-based FedBid and worked with the government-services company to overturn an agency moratorium on work by the firm, in addition to interfering with an investigation of the matters.

keep reading this article at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/federal-eye/wp/2014/10/14/va-contracting-official-susan-taylor-resigns-amid-agencys-attempt-to-fire-her/

IG: GSA reduces credit card spending, needs more reform

Although more controls are needed, legislation to assist General Services Administration efforts to prevent waste, fraud and abuse at charge card programs has largely been helpful, an internal investigation found.

In an audit dated Sept. 29, the GSA’s inspector general said that GSA’s purchase card spending between fiscal years 2011 and 2013 fell from more than $69.3 million to about $33.6 million, and travel card spending declined from $17.1 million to about $4.2 million.

“We determined that the risks of illegal, improper, or erroneous purchases and payments made through GSA’s purchase card and travel card programs are medium and low, respectively,” the report states. “As such, we do not plan to conduct any audits of the purchase card or travel card programs in FY 2015.”

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/ig-gsa-reduces-credit-card-spending-needs-more-reform/2014-10-01

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Former GSA official Jeff Neely indicted for fraudulent claims

A former high-ranking official General Services Administration official has been indicted for making fraudulent reimbursement claims.

Jeff Neely, the former region nine administrator at GSA, organized a lavish 2010 Las Vegas conference that cost almost $823,000 and prompted an investigation that forced the resignation of top officials at the agency and the firing of several others. He told conference organizers he wanted the conference to be “over the top.”

Neely was indicted by a federal grand jury for making fraudulent reimbursement claims for personal travel and expenses on trips to Las Vegas, California, Guam and Saipan. Neely told employees those expenses were for official business.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federaltimes.com/article/20140926/MGMT/309260014/Former-GSA-official-indicted-fraudulent-claims

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