Former Background Investigator for Federal Government Pleads Guilty to Making a False Statement
WASHINGTON – Rose Gross, 62, a former background investigator who did work under contract for the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), pled guilty today to a charge stemming from her falsification of work on background investigations of federal employees and contractors, announced U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu and Norbert E. Vint, Acting Inspector General for the Office of Personnel Management.
Gross, of District Heights, Md., pled guilty in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to making a false statement. The Honorable Rudolph Contreras scheduled sentencing for Oct. 22, 2018. The charge carries a statutory penalty of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Under federal sentencing guidelines, Gross faces a range of 12 to 18 months in prison. She also has agreed to pay $189,042 in restitution to the federal government.
According to a statement of offense submitted to the Court, Gross was employed by USIS and KeyPoint Government Solutions as an investigator under contract to conduct background investigations on behalf of OPM’s Federal Investigative Services, which now is known as OPM’s National Background Investigations Bureau. All of the criminal conduct in this case took place while Gross worked under contract on behalf of Federal Investigative Services.
Between April 2014 and February 2015, in more than two dozen Reports of Investigations on background investigations, Gross represented that she had interviewed a source or reviewed a record regarding the subject of the background investigation. In fact, she had not conducted the interviews or obtained the records of interest. These reports were utilized and relied upon by the agencies requesting the background investigations to determine whether the subjects were suitable for positions having access to classified information, for positions impacting national security, for receiving or retaining security clearances, or for positions of public trust.
The false representations by Gross have required OPM to reopen and rework numerous background investigations that were assigned to her during the time period of her falsifications, at an estimated cost of at least $189,092 to the U.S. government.
OPM has a robust integrity assurance program which utilizes a variety of methods to ensure the accuracy of reported information. The falsification of investigative case work by the defendant was detected through the program.
This is one of numerous cases prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia since 2008 involving false representations by background investigators and record checkers working on federal background investigations. In addition to Gross, 24 other background investigators and two record checkers have been convicted of charges.
With a staff of more than 9,900 federal and contract employees, the National Background Investigations Bureau (NBIB) conducts approximately 95 percent of all personnel background investigations for the federal government. NBIB processed over 2.5 million background investigations in the 2017 fiscal year.
In performing background investigations, the investigators conduct interviews of individuals who have information about the person who is the subject of the review. In addition, the investigators seek out, obtain, and review documentary evidence, such as employment records, to verify and corroborate information provided by either the subject of the background investigation or by persons interviewed during the investigation. After conducting interviews and obtaining documentary evidence, the investigators prepare a Report of Investigation containing the results of the interviews and document reviews, and electronically submit the material to OPM in Washington, D.C. OPM then provides a copy of the investigative file to the requesting agency, which can use the information to determine an individual’s eligibility for employment or a security clearance.
In announcing the plea, U.S. Attorney Liu and Acting Inspector General Vint praised the efforts of Special Agent Christopher J. Sulhoff, OPM, Office of the Inspector General, and Philip Kroop and Kevin Cassidy, OPM, NBIB. They also acknowledged the work of Paralegal Specialists Aisha Keys and Joshua Fein of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, as well as Assistant U.S. Attorney Ellen Chubin Epstein, who investigated and prosecuted this matter.