Former Sheppard Air Force Base Employees and Contractors Plead Guilty in Federal Court to Conspiring to Unlawfully Disclose and Obtain Sensitive Government Contract Information
WICHITA FALLS, Texas — John Torrance Gilmore, III, a former employee at Sheppard Air Force Base (SAFB), appeared this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert K. Roach in federal court in Wichita Falls, Texas, and pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to defraud the United States and conspiring to unlawfully disclose sensitive source information. Another former employee at SAFB, Larry Thomas Ballard, pleaded guilty to the same offense earlier this week. Two government contractors, John Carmon Freeman and Miguel Angel Hughes, each pleaded guilty earlier this week to one count of conspiring to defraud the United States and conspiring to unlawfully obtain sensitive source information. While sentencing dates have not been set, each faces a maximum statutory sentence of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and restitution. Today’s announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña of the Northern District of Texas.
Gilmore, 53, of Wichita Falls served as the Lead Civil Engineer in the Civil Engineering Squadron’s engineering department and supervised several engineers, including Ballard, 60, also of Wichita Falls. The Civil Engineering Squadron’s mission was to maintain SAFB facilities and provide civil engineering support to the base.
Hughes, 63, of Fort Worth, Texas, owned Hughes and Guzman Construction Services, LLC, (Hughes Building Services), a roofing contractor and subcontractor with offices in Fort Worth, Dallas and Balch Springs, Texas. Freeman, 50, of Vernon, Texas, owned Freeman Construction, a road-building and paving contractor, with offices in Wichita Falls and Vernon.
The indictment alleges that the four defendants conspired together to impair and obstruct the government’s ability to have a competitive and unbiased selection of contractors — depriving the government of its right to exclusive use and control over sensitive source selection information, to include contractor bid information, government pricing and cost estimates and contractor proposal information. The indictment also alleges that the defendants conspired together to knowingly disclose and obtain sensitive source selection information related to several contracts’ specifications, including those for roof and pothole repairs and the liquid oxygen maintenance facility.
According to plea documents filed in the case, the defendants conspired together and with others during the period from at least the mid 1990's through 2009, to defraud the 82nd Contracting Squadron and the Department of the Air Force by depriving the United States of the lawful right to exclusive use and control over sensitive source selection information, such as contractor bid information, government pricing and cost estimates, and contractor proposal information, on several contracts. They also conspired together and with others to disclose or obtain sensitive source selection information on several contracts.
The purpose of the conspiracy, according to documents filed in the case, was for Gilmore and Ballard to unlawfully provide sensitive source information to their friends, Freeman and Hughes, to provide Freeman and Hughes with a competitive advantage or financial benefit in connection with several government contracts. Over several years, Freeman and Hughes gave Gilmore and Ballard personal gifts and benefits in return for their preferential treatment in connection with several government contracts. In fact, sometime in the mid to late 1990's Freeman paid large sums of cash to Gilmore, and on at least one occasion, Freeman gave $10,000 in cash to Gilmore. Freeman’s plea documents indicated that Freeman paid Gilmore in appreciation for Gilmore approving and accepting Freeman’s work on government contracts. Hughes’ plea documents stated that during the period from 2004 through 2008, Hughes paid travel expenses and took Gilmore to several gun shows in order to curry favor with Gilmore.
Plea documents also state that when Gilmore became aware of this criminal investigation, he told Freeman to lie about his cash payments to him. After initially lying about them to investigators, Freeman later admitted that he had paid cash bribes to Gilmore.
The investigation was conducted by the Defense Criminal Investigative Service and the Air Force Office of Special Investigations.
Assistant U.S. Attorney David Jarvis is in charge of the prosecution.
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