WASHINGTON Ė A U.S. contractor has pleaded guilty to paying illegal gratuities to a former U.S. Army director of contracting and to violating the Travel Act in connection with U.S. Army contracts awarded from an Army recreational facility in Germany, Assistant Attorney General Alice S. Fisher of the Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Roslynn R. Mauskopf of the Eastern District of New York announced today.
Ellis Aaron Abramson, 40, of Merrick, N.Y., pleaded guilty to a two-count criminal information this morning at U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of New York in Central Islip, N.Y., before U.S. District Judge Sandra J. Feuerstein. The information, filed today, charged Abramson with one count of paying illegal gratuities to a former U.S. Army director of contracting, and one count of violating the Travel Act by traveling from New York to Germany to facilitate payment of the illegal gratuities.
The information alleges that the gratuities were paid by Abramson in connection with contracts awarded to Abramsonís company, Bramson House, Inc. The Edelweiss Lodge and Resort, Armed Forces Recreation Center (AFRC Europe) in Garmisch, Germany, awarded the contracts to Abramsonís company.
The Department of the Army serves as the executive agent for the AFRC Europe, operating the AFRC Europe on behalf of the Department of Defense. Patrons at the AFRC Europe include active duty U.S. military personnel serving in Afghanistan and Iraq.
According to the information, Abramson is president and owner of Bramson House, Inc., based in Freeport, N.Y. He gave cash and other benefits directly and indirectly to the former director of contracting, who was stationed at AFRC Europe, in return for Abramsonís agreement to fraudulently inflate certain line items by $23,000 in a contract between Bramson House and the AFRC Europe, to provide the center with draperies and guest room bed spreads. According to the information, Abramson also agreed to pay the former director of contracting between $20,000 and $30,000 in a separate scheme to inflate certain line items in a purported contract between Bramson House and the AFRC Europe. Bramson House has not been charged in this matter.
Abramson faces a maximum sentence of two years in prison on the illegal gratuities charge and five years in prison on the Travel Act charge. As part of his plea, Abramson has agreed to provide $23,000 in restitution to the United States government for the fraudulently inflated amount of the line items in the contract between Abramsonís company and the AFRC Europe.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division Command and Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation. It is being prosecuted by Deputy Chief Mark F. Mendelsohn and Trial Attorney Suzanne R. Clement of the Fraud Section of the Criminal Division at the Department of Justice and Assistant U.S. Attorney Allen Bode of the Eastern District of New York.