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May 29, 2009

CIVILIAN CONTRACTOR SENTENCED TO PRISON FOR MAKING FALSE STATEMENTS TO FEDERAL AGENTS

(HOUSTON) – Gregory W. Blackard, a civilian contractor who performed work on the United States Embassy in Beijing, China, has been sentenced to federal prison, acting United States Attorney Tim Johnson announced today. Blackard pleaded guilty on Jan. 16, 2009, to conspiring to make false statements about and concealing his frequent and lengthy contact with a female Chinese national.

Blackard, 37, of Houston, was arrested Dec. 22, 2008, for accusations of conspiring to make false statements to federal agents while he was employed at the United States Embassy. On Jan. 14, 2009, the government filed a superseding indictment adding the charge of conspiracy to defraud the United States.

The first count of the eight count superseding indictment charged from on or about June 2005 and continuing until on or about September 2007, Blackard knowingly conspired to commit an offense against the United States - making false statements about his contact with a Chinese foreign national to federal agents. The second count charged from the same period of time, Blackard knowingly conspired to defraud the government by making false statements in an effort to keep his employment at the Embassy. The remaining six counts charged individual violations of making false statements to federal agents.

At the time of his plea, the factual proffer read by the government and accepted by Blackard included Blackard’s routine and repeated contact with a foreign national during a two-year period of employment at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, China. Blackard had received extensive training and materials about the importance of reporting any contact with foreign nationals, but repeatedly failed to do so. Blackard did not disclose his extensive contact with the foreign national in nine separate interviews with federal agents.

U.S. District Court Judge Gray Miller sentenced Blackard to six months imprisonment followed by three years of supervised release. He was further ordered to serve 180 hours of community service and to pay a $4,000 fine. He has been permitted to remain free on bond pending his surrender to the United States Marshals Service.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michael Wright of the National Security/Public Corruption Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and thoroughly investigated by agents with the Houston Office of the FBI, as well as agents of the Department of State Diplomatic Security Service.

 

 

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