United States Attorney Anne M. Tompkins
Western District of North Carolina
The Defendant Has Agreed to Plead Guilty to Conspiracy to Commit Theft of Program Receiving Federal Funds
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – A bill of information and a plea agreement were filed today in U.S. District Court charging a Charlotte man with one count of federal program theft conspiracy for stealing over $829,000 from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (“UNCC”), announced Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.
Roger A. Coe, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Charlotte Division and Chief Jeffrey A. Baker, of UNCC’s Police Department, join U.S. Attorney Tompkins in making today’s announcement.
According to the criminal bill of information, Sam Hanna, 62, of Charlotte, and two co-conspirators engaged in a scheme involving fraudulent contracts, bribes and kickbacks which defrauded UNCC of over $829,000. Court documents indicate that beginning in March 2005 Hanna was employed by UNCC as a Facilities Engineer Specialist and was responsible for soliciting bids and selecting outside contractors to work at UNCC. Hanna also had the authority to award contracts under $30,000 without a bid process. UNCC is an educational institution that receives federal assistance in the form of grants, loans and subsidies, among others.
According to the charging document and plea agreement filed today, Hanna used his position and authority to award no-bid contracts under $30,000 to two entities owned by Hanna’s co-conspirators. One of the companies owned by Hanna’s son-in-law, identified in the bill of information as “Individual A,” owned and operated “Air Handling Equipment Enterprises (“Air Handling”), based in Washington, D.C. A second co-conspirator, identified as “Individual B,” owned and operated “Air Motion Systems” (“Air Motion”) a company based in Greenville, S.C. Both companies maintained company bank accounts which were used to facilitate the scheme, filed documents indicate.
According to information contained in the charging document and the plea agreement, beginning from 2006 through 2011 Hanna awarded no-bid contracts to Air Handling and Air Motion and directed $829,807 as payments to the two companies in connection with such no-bid contracts. Air Handling and Air Motion did little or no work to justify the payments and Hanna issued fraudulent invoices from UNCC for Air Handling and Air Motion to cover up the fraudulent scheme. Court records show that the co-conspirators deposited the fraud proceeds in the companies’ bank accounts. Then, at Hanna’s direction, individuals A and B directed $413,170 in bribe payments to Hanna by depositing the money in a bank account of a company owned by Hanna, “Air Touch Systems” (“Air Touch”). Filed documents indicate that Hanna used the money he obtained through these kickbacks to pay for personal expenditures, including payments for multiple consumer lines of credit, mortgage payments for his home, and to make purchases from Dish Network, Anne Taylor and Verizon, among other things.
Hanna has been charged with, and agreed to plead guilty to, one count of federal program theft conspiracy. He faces a maximum prison term of five years and a $250,000 fine. The defendant has also agreed to pay full restitution, the amount of which will be determined by the Court at sentencing. Hanna’s initial appearance and plea hearing will be scheduled by the U.S. District Court.
The investigation is handled by FBI and the UNCC Police Department. The prosecution for the government is being handled by Assistant United States Attorney Mark T. Odulio of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte.