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Press Release

Former Background Investigator for Federal Government Sentenced for Making False Statements

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

           WASHINGTON – Justin T. Yarbrough, 37, a former background investigator who did work under contract for the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), was sentenced today to five months in prison on one false statements charge in connection with his 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.

           Yarbrough, of Tennessee, pled guilty on April 25, 2019, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to one count of making false statements. He was sentenced by the Honorable Timothy J. Kelly. As part of his plea agreement, he is required to pay $126,693.17 in restitution to OPM. Following his prison term, Yarbrough will be placed on three years of supervised release, with special conditions that include but are not limited to five months of home confinement (with the exception of leaving for work/school/religious obligations/etc.)

           According to court papers, Yarbrough 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 having access to classified information and impacting national security. NBIB also conducts investigations for federal employees and contractors seeking security clearances.

           Yarbrough admitted that, in conducting these investigations between June 2013 and May 2014, he falsely claimed to have interviewed a source or reviewed a record regarding the subject of the background investigation in roughly 20 investigation reports.  For example, court papers state that Yarbrough falsely represented that he had conducted a rental records check on an applicant for a position of public trust with the U.S. Department of Justice.

           Yarbrough acknowledged at his guilty plea hearing that his false representations required OPM’s Federal Investigative Services to reopen and rework background investigations that were assigned to him during the time period in which he falsified reports. The government estimated the cost of the recovery effort at more than $125,000 to the U.S. government.

           NBIB, through its workforce of approximately 5,400 field investigators, is responsible for conducting background investigations for numerous federal agencies and their contractors, on individuals either 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 Yarbrough 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 25 other background investigators and record checkers have been convicted of charges similar to those brought against Yarbrough.

           In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Liu and Acting Inspector Vint praised the efforts Special Agent Natalie Bloom, of the OPM Office of the Inspector General, as well as Lead Investigator Jeffrey Addicks, Special Investigations Branch Chief Kevin Cassidy, and Integrity Assurance Executive Program Director Philip Kroop, of OPM-NBIB.  They also acknowledged the work of Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathryn L. Rakoczy of the Fraud and Public Corruption Section, who investigated and prosecuted this matter, as well as former Assistant U.S. Attorney Ellen Chubin Epstein and former OPM OIG Special Agent Samuel Peyton, who both previously worked on the investigation of the matter.


Updated July 15, 2019

Press Release Number: 19-116