FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT
AUSA VICKIE E. LEDUC or
MARCIA MURPHY at 410-209-4885
SEPTEMBER 5, 2007
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FORMER GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES SENTENCED IN BRIBERY AND PROCUREMENT FRAUD SCHEME AT ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND
Golf Balls and Other Merchandise Worth Over $288,000 Diverted for Their Personal Use
BALTIMORE, Maryland - U.S. District Judge William D. Quarles, Jr. sentenced Douglas Atwell, age 52, of Port Deposit, Maryland today to 18 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release, and Gerard Yursis, age 47, of Parkton, Maryland, to home confinement, for bribery in relation to a scheme to defraud the government, announced United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein. Yursis’ home confinement sentence was based upon his medical condition. Judge Quarles also ordered that Atwell pay restitution of $294,525.99, and Yursis, restitution of $146,43.08.
United States Attorney Rod Rosentein said, "Douglas Atwell and Gerard Yursis conspired with a company salesman to engage in this scheme to defraud the taxpayers and line their own pockets."
“This case is an amazing example of shameless greed. It is unbelievable to think that when we have soldiers risking their lives in harm’s way, those associated with the Defense Department are involved in this type of activity. The Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) is committed to investigating procurement fraud and always working to protect America's war fighters," said C.R. Gillum, Resident Agent in Charge of the DCIS office in Baltimore.
According to the defendants’ guilty pleas, Atwell and Yursis, who were both civilian employees of the U.S. Army at the Aberdeen Test Center, Aberdeen Proving Ground, placed orders from Wayne Silbersack, a commissioned salesman for Lawson Products, from 2003 to 2004 for equipment totaling over $429,500 which were paid by the Army. Silbersack issued Lawson invoices to the Army which inflated the prices of, and falsely described, the items ordered by Atwell and Yursis in order to conceal the use of government funds to obtain items for the personal use of Atwell and Yursis. Atwell, who managed a “tool crib” at one of the Aberdeen Test Center buildings, charged the purchases to his government purchase card. Yursis was a test director for the Aberdeen Test Center, who supervised tests of equipment and managed a budget which was supposed to cover all the costs of labor and materials for the tests. Atwell frequently charged the orders to budgets supervised by Yursis because Atwell knew Yursis was personally receiving equipment from Silbersack which was charged to the Army.
In exchange for processing invoices with inflated prices, Atwell received a Dell computer falsely described in an invoice as “electrical assortment parts LP 5002" which included a mark up from $1,973 to $2,485; a shed disguised on invoices as a “large hardware assortment” which was marked up from $2,840 to $6,521; and golf balls falsely described as a “ball bearing assortment” which were marked up from $682.50 to $1,409.
Yursis ordered the following items from Silbersack, all of which were charged to Atwell’s government purchase card and paid for by the Army: an 8000 watt generator, a shed constructed at Yursis home address, a jointer/planer, a bush-hog to fit Yursis’ tractor, Clopay garage doors (installed), and an air compressor.
Silbersack received over $78,000 in commissions for sales to Atwell’s government credit card. Over $288,000 worth of merchandise was delivered to Wayne Silbersack’s house or picked up outside the base that cannot now be located at the Aberdeen site or otherwise accounted for.
Silbersack, age 65, of Forest Hill, Maryland previously pleaded guilty to bribery and was sentenced on July 24, 2007 to 30 months in prison. Judge Quarles also ordered that Silbersack pay restitution of $294,525.99.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service for their investigative work. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joyce McDonald and Harry Gruber, who prosecuted the case.