Skip to main content
Press Release

Former Background Investigator for Federal Government Pleads Guilty to Making False Statements

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Columbia

           WASHINGTON – Jennifer L. Pannocchia, 31, a former background investigator who worked under contract for the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), pleaded guilty today to making false statements in connection with her falsification of work on background investigations of federal employees and contractors.

           U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu and Norbert E. Vint, Acting Inspector General for the Office of Personnel Management made the announcement today.

           Pannocchia, pled guilty today, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to one count of making false statements. She will be sentenced by the Honorable Timothy J. Kelly on October 22, 2019.  As part of her plea agreement, Pannocchia is required to pay $169, 832.23 in restitution to OPM.  She faces a maximum sentence of five years of jail and a $250,000 fine.

           According to court papers, Pannocchia was employed by USIS, formerly known as U.S. Investigations Services, Inc., as an investigator under contract to conduct background investigations on behalf of OPM’s Federal Investigative Services, which is now known as the National Background Investigations Bureau (NBIB). NBIB conducts background investigations to determine suitability for federal positions of public trust, including positions that have access to classified information and impact national security. NBIB also conducts investigations for federal employees and contractors seeking security clearances.

           Pannocchia admitted that, in conducting these investigations between August 2013 and August 2014, she falsely claimed to have interviewed a source or reviewed a record regarding the subject of the background investigation in more than one dozen investigation reports.  For example, court papers state that Pannocchia falsely represented that she had spoken with a source in conducting a background check on an applicant.

           She acknowledged at her guilty plea hearing that her false representations required OPM’s Federal Investigative Services to reopen and rework background investigations that were assigned to her during the time period in which she falsified reports. The government estimated the cost of the recovery effort at more than $169,000 to the U.S. government.

           NBIB through its workforce of approximately 5,400 filed investigators is responsible for either conducting background investigations for numerous federal agencies and their contracts, on individuals employed by or seeking employment with those agencies or contractors. NBIB conducted more than 2.6 million investigations during the 2018 fiscal year. More than 787,557 of these investigations involved applicants for access or continued access to classified information.

           NBIB 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 Pannocchia 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.  Approximately 26 other background investigators and record checkers have been convicted of charges similar to those brought against Pannocchia.

           In announcing the plea, U.S. Attorney Liu and Acting Inspector Vint praised the efforts of Special Agents Mark Malogrino and Shantel Robinson, of the OPM Office of the Inspector General, as well as Assistant Special Agent in Charge, Nathaniel Smith, Special Investigations Branch Chief Kevin Cassidy, and Integrity Assurance Executive Program Director Philip Kroop, of OPM-NBIB.  They also acknowledge the work of Assistant U.S. Attorney Denise A. Simmonds of the Fraud and Public Corruption Section, who investigated and prosecuted this matter, as well as former Assistant U.S. Attorney Ellen Chubin Epstein, who previously worked on the matter.

Updated August 9, 2019

Press Release Number: 19-137