Former director of Cleveland VA medical center indicted for conspiracy, fraud, money laundering and other charges
The former director of the Cleveland VA Medical Center was indicted on 36 counts, accused of accepting bribes in return for influencing development projects and decisions involving the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, law enforcement officials said.
William D. Montague, 61, of Brecksville, was charged with conspiracy to commit honest services mail fraud, bribery, money laundering, multiple counts of wire fraud, mail fraud, disclosing public contract information and other charges.
The indictment is part of the Cuyahoga County corruption investigation.
“As a Veterans Affairs Medical Center Director, William Montague misled staff and misused his position to enrich himself and businesses pursuing contracts with the Veterans Administration,” said Stephen D. Anthony, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Cleveland Office. “The arrest of Montague reflects law enforcement’s continued dedication to root out corruption at any level.”
“Violating the public trust for personal gain cannot be tolerated, particularly at the expense of our nation’s heroes,” said Gavin McClaren, United States Department of Veterans Affairs – Office of Inspector General, Resident Agent in Charge, Cleveland.
The Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center was approximately the fifth-largest in the country, annually serving about 95,000 veterans who lived in 24 counties in Northeast Ohio. Montague began working for the VA in 1975 and served as director of the Cleveland VA Medical Center from 1995 until his retirement in 2010, according to the indictment.
The VA had been operating medical facilities in both Brecksville and the Wade Park neighborhood in Cleveland. In the early 2000s, the VA began exploring the feasibility of consolidating the facilities into one location, known as the VA Development Project. The combined facility would include a domiciliary, office space and parking, according to the indictment.
The VA selected Business 42 to develop and managed the VA Development Project. Michael Forlani was the sole member of Business 42, and he had multiple other business interests, including as president and part-owner of Doan Pyramid LLC, according to the indictment.
Forlani is currently serving eight years in prison after pleading guilty to racketeering, bribery and other charges.
On or about Jan. 1, 2010, Business 66 began operations, having purchased Doan’s assets. Business 66 operated out of Doan’s former office space and retained many Doan employees, according to the indictment.
Montague solicited and accepted gifts, payments and other things of value from Forlani and Business 66, including a consulting contract between Business 66 and House of Montague, a financial services company Montague started in 2008, according to the indictment.
The indictment details numerous instances between 2007 and 2010 in which Montague took actions on behalf of Forlani or others. Those activities include helping expedite getting a bond rating from Standard & Poors and desired ratings, help getting desired legal opinions from the VA, help getting desired parking rates, and other activities.
Montague retired from the VA on Feb. 3, 2010, about a month after Business 66 began operations. On Feb. 15, 2010, Business 66 issued a check to House of Montague for $2,750, the first of many approximately monthly checks. On Dec. 29, 2010, Montague became a member of the Business 66 Board of Advisors, according to the indictment.
From about Feb. 15, 2010 through May 2012, Business 66 paid House of Montague $156,750, according to the indictment.
In a different scheme, Montague entered into a consulting agreement with a company identified as Business 73, headquartered in Virginia. The company agreed to pay Montague $2,500 a day for a minimum of 24 days, between July 1, 2008 and July 1, 2009, while Montague was still employed by the VA, according to the indictment.
Montague emphasized his ability to access key decision makers in the VA quickly and effectively as one of the reasons he could help Business 73 develop joint ventures and/or expand services provided by the VA. Montague told an official at Business 73 that he had consulted with a VA ethics panel and that he had authorization to do the consulting work as long as he took vacation time to perform the work. In fact, Montague had no such authorization, according to the indictment.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Antoinette T. Bacon and Nancy L. Kelley following an investigation by the FBI and United States Department of Veterans Affairs – Office of Inspector General.
If convicted, the defendant’s sentence will be determined by the court after review of factors unique to this case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record (if any), the defendant’s role in the offenses and the characteristics of the violations. In all cases, the sentences will not exceed the statutory maximum and in most cases they will be less than the maximum.
An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.