Former NIH Employee Pleads Guilty in Scheme to Steal Computers

September 29, 2010

Greenbelt, Maryland - Leon Jones, age 56, of Myersville, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to making false statements on a tax return and making false statements in connection with an investigation of computers stolen from the federal government.

The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; John A. DiCicco, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Tax Division of the U.S. Department of Justice; Special Agent in Charge Rebecca Sparkman of the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation, Washington, D.C. Field Office; and Special Agent in Charge Elton Malone, Special Investigations Branch, Office of Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

According to the plea agreement, Jones was an employee of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), responsible for surplus computer parts at NIH’s Gaithersburg, Maryland Distribution Center (GDC). In September 2007 HHS began investigating allegations of the theft of computers from the GDC. On September 25, 2007, HHS investigators interviewed Jones and in response to a question as to whether Jones knew a business called Computech Services and Systems, Inc., or a specific individual associated with that business, Jones falsely denied knowledge of either the individual or business. In fact, from 2004 to 2007, the individual had paid Jones over $150,000 in return for computers Jones had stolen from the GDC.

Additionally, Jones attempted to evade paying between $30,000 and $80,000 in federal income taxes for the years 2004 to 2007, by omitting from his tax returns income he received from the sale of the stolen computers.

Jones faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for making a false statement to the HHS investigators; and three years in prison and a $250,000 fine for making a false statement on a tax return. U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messite has scheduled sentencing for December 22, 2010 at 9:30 a.m.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein and Acting Assistant Attorney General John A. DiCicco commended the IRS- Criminal Investigation; the Department of Health and Human Services, OIG, Special Investigations Branch; and the NIH Police Department for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein and Mr. DiCicco thanked Assistant United States Attorney Jonathan C. Su and Jessica Nuzzelillo, Trial Attorney, Tax Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, who are prosecuting the case.

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