Pennsylvania Man Pleads Guilty to Defrauding Alexandria Real Estate Investment Trust Company
(Alexandria, Va) - Robert E. Atwood, 52, of Nazareth, Penn., pleaded guilty today to scheming to defraud Alexandria-based AvalonBay Communities, Inc.
Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and John Perren, Acting Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office, made the announcement after the plea was accepted by United States District Judge Anthony J. Trenga. Atwood faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 when he is sentenced on April 2, 2010.
From 1994 through January 2007, Atwood was employed by AvalonBay, an equity Real Estate Investment Trust primarily engaged in developing, acquiring and managing apartment communities within the United States. From 1998 until approximately July 2004, in San Jose, Calif., Atwood served as a manager of capital improvements in charge of on-site operational maintenance of various AvalonBay properties throughout California. In July 2004, AvalonBay transferred Atwood to a regional office in New Jersey.
According to court documents, from about 2001 and continuing until January 2007, Atwood agreed with an official of Draeger Construction, Inc., that Draeger would pay Atwood a kickback based upon the amount of AvalonBay business that was awarded to Draeger Construction through no-bid contracts for work in California. According to the plan, Atwood and the Draeger official agreed that the kickback would be implemented by making Atwood’s wife, Tiffany Atwood, a ghost employee on the payroll of Draeger Construction. As a result of the scheme, by the time AvalonBay had terminated Atwood’s employment, Tiffany Atwood had received approximately $300,000 in what appeared to be salary from Draeger Construction.
This case is being investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office. Assistant United States Attorney Stephen Learned is prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.