Civilian Navy Employee Found Guilty of Obstruction and False Statements After Jury Trial
A federal jury today returned a guilty verdict against a civilian employee of the U.S. Navy posted at the Capodichino Navy Base near Naples, Italy, for obstructing an investigation and making false statements, announced Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Nicholas A. Klinefeldt of the Southern District of Iowa.
Steven William Ashton, 41, with a last known U.S. residence in Davenport, Iowa, was found guilty after a nine-day jury trial of creating false documents to obstruct the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) investigation into Ashton’s private consulting business called BlackGrid Consulting LLC. The jury also found Ashton guilty of making false statements about his tour of duty in order to obtain federal benefits and access to military bases worldwide.
The evidence at trial showed that the NCIS was investigating Ashton for conflicts of interest and using inside government information to advance his business. When Ashton learned about the investigation, he created fraudulent documentation purporting to show that he had fully disclosed his business to Navy authorities and received approval. At Ashton’s direction, his defense counsel unwittingly submitted those false documents to the prosecutors and gave other false explanations to the Justice Department.
According to the evidence presented at trial, from April 2004 to March 2013, Ashton was employed by the Navy as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and Host Nation Programs Manager for the regions of Europe, Africa and Southwest Asia, responsible for managing contracts and agreements among the Navy and other countries to support the United States’ military efforts.
He was found not guilty on charges of theft of government funds for obtaining housing benefits, called Living Quarters Assistance, to which he was not entitled, and of obstructing that investigation.
This case was investigated by the NCIS and the Air Force Office of Special Investigations. The case is being prosecuted by Director of Procurement Fraud Litigation Catherine Votaw of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Clifford Cronk of the Southern District of Iowa.