Former Department of Energy Employee Pleads Guilty to Criminal Conflict of Interest
Spouse Also Pleads Guilty to Lying to Federal Agents
WASHINGTON – Donna J. Scott, 49, a former U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) employee, pleaded guilty today to criminal conflict of interest for personally participating in DOE’s purchase of furniture when she knew her husband had a financial interest in the deals. Scott’s husband, Timothy Scott, 56, also pleaded guilty today to making a false statement to federal agents when he denied having a financial interest in the furniture purchases.
The guilty pleas were announced by U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division; DOE; and Special Agent in Charge Christopher P. Cherry of the GSA Office of Inspector General - Office of Investigations.
According to court documents, Donna Scott, of Damascus, Maryland, was employed by the DOE in various positions between July 2006 and June 2008 in which she coordinated the use and renovation of DOE office space, including as the Assistant to the Director of the Office of Logistics and Facility Operations. During this time, she coordinated the purchase of furniture for DOE’s Maryland campus in 2006 and for its Washington headquarters in 2008.
According to court documents, Donna Scott was tasked in 2006 with overseeing the renovation of the lobby and a conference room in a DOE building in Germantown, Maryland, including the acquisition of new furniture for these spaces. In July 2006, she recommended to a co-worker that the co-worker obtain price quotes for furniture from her husband, Timothy Scott. Timothy Scott provided these price quotes to Donna Scott’s co-worker, both of which clearly referenced Timothy Scott as the manufacturer’s representative. According to court documents, in August 2006, Donna Scott’s co-worker attempted to purchase the furniture using the price quotes provided by Timothy Scott, but was advised that she needed two additional price quotes from other companies for each transaction to satisfy competitive bidding requirements. Donna Scott’s co-worker communicated to her the need for the additional price quotes. Donna Scott admitted that she subsequently obtained two additional price quotes for each transaction from her husband and provided them to her co-worker as the competitive price quotes. Donna Scott admitted that she knew, unlike the original price quotes, that none of these additional price quotes referenced Timothy Scott by name. Moreover, the additional quotes bid a higher price for the furniture than the initial quote, making Timothy Scott’s original bid the lowest. The DOE ultimately purchased the furniture using the original price quote provided by Timothy Scott. As a result, Timothy Scott earned approximately $3,791 in commissions from the manufacturers.
Additionally, according to court documents, Donna Scott was assigned in April 2008 to oversee the renovation of the cafeteria in the DOE’s headquarters in Washington. In April and May 2008, Donna Scott selected furniture worth approximately $300,000 from particular manufacturers for the cafeteria renovation project. Donna Scott admitted that she knew these manufacturers’ representatives planned to use her husband as their dealer of record for these transactions, thus earning her husband a commission. In May and June 2008, Donna Scott arranged for the furniture to be purchased by the General Services Administration (GSA) on behalf of the DOE. As a result, Timothy Scott earned approximately $24,174 in commissions from the manufacturers.
On Sept. 25, 2008, Donna Scott signed and submitted a confidential financial disclosure report in connection with her employment at the DOE, omitting any reference to commissions received by her husband or any other reportable sources of income for him.
According to his plea agreement, federal agents interviewed Timothy Scott on March 24, 2009, about business he and his companies conducted related to the DOE, as well as Donna Scott’s role in his obtaining that business. Federal agents asked Timothy Scott if he had received any compensation related to the renovation of the headquarters cafeteria in 2008. Timothy Scott admitted that he lied to the agents, telling them he had attempted to get business and make sales during that renovation, but that he was unable to receive any compensation related to that project.
Donna and Timothy Scott each face maximum sentences of five years in prison and fines of $250,000 or the greater of twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte has scheduled sentencing for June 3, 2010 at 9:30 a.m.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein and Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer commended Assistant United States Attorney Stacy Dawson Belf and Trial Attorney Timothy J. Kelly of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section, who are prosecuting the case.