Business Owner Sentenced to Prison Term for Bribing District of Columbia Government Employee
Defendant’s Crimes Cost Government More Than $300,000
WASHINGTON – Vashawn Strader, 40, of Washington, D.C., was sentenced today to 18 months in prison for bribing an employee of the District of Columbia Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) to get favorable action on government contracts.
The announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu, Nancy McNamara, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, and District of Columbia Inspector General Daniel W. Lucas.
Strader pled guilty in July 2017, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery. Following his prison term, he will be placed on three years of supervised release. During that time, he must perform 100 hours of community service. He also will be required to pay $308,311 in restitution to OSSE and an identical amount in a forfeiture money judgment.
Strader’s co-conspirator, government employee Shauntell Harley, was sentenced in July 2018 to 56 months in prison. She pled guilty to carrying out two schemes, one with Strader and one with someone else, that caused the D.C. government to pay more than $480,000 on fraudulent invoices. Harley, 48, of Washington, D.C., must pay $488,311 in restitution to OSSE and a forfeiture money judgment in the amount of $100,400.
OSSE is an agency of the District of Columbia government. Harley was a management analyst for fiscal policy and grant management in OSSE’s Division of Special Education. From 2009 through 2014, her responsibilities included issuing requests for services through the government’s procurement process and then reviewing invoices from those who supposedly provided the services.
Strader was the sole owner of a company that provided tutoring and mentoring services to public school students in the District of Columbia and elsewhere. In addition, he co-owned a company that owned and managed real estate in the District of Columbia.
According to the government’s evidence, beginning in or about June of 2012, Strader and Harley agreed that Harley would receive money and other things of value in exchange for favorable official action for Strader’s companies. They agreed that Strader would create fraudulent invoices purporting to reflect work that his companies did not actually perform. This work purportedly included early intervention services for infants and toddlers with disabilities and developmental delays and professional development training.
Harley used her official position at OSSE to provide Strader with non-public information about OSSE contracts, assist him in creating fraudulent invoices, and submit these fraudulent invoices and other documents as necessary in order to cause OSSE to make the payments for services the companies never performed. In total, this led to $308,311 in payments in 2012 and 2013 to the two companies for services that never were provided. In return for her actions, Harley personally obtained a total of $43,900 in proceeds traceable to the scheme.
In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Liu, Assistant Director in Charge McNamara, and Inspector General Lucas commended the work of those who investigated the case from the FBI’s Washington Field Office and Office of the Inspector General of the District of Columbia. They acknowledged the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Swanton, who assisted with forfeiture issues, and Paralegal Specialists Joshua Fein and Kristy Penny. Finally, they expressed appreciation for the work of Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter C. Lallas, who is investigating and prosecuting the matter.