Former HUD Employee Sentenced for Providing Non-Public Information to Government Contractor
Admitted Taking Gifts in Exchange for Information
WASHINGTON – LaFonda Lewis, 57, a former supervisory contract oversight specialist with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), was sentenced today to a year and a day in prison for providing non-public information about pending HUD contracts to a business owner in exchange for money, tickets to sporting events, and other things of value.
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 Reginald O. Sessoms, Special Agent in Charge, Special Investigations Division, HUD Office of Inspector General.
Lewis, of Lusby, Md., pled guilty in January 2019, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia., to violating the Procurement Integrity Act. She was sentenced by the Honorable Randolph D. Moss. As part of her plea agreement, she is required to pay a forfeiture money judgment of $23,055, representing the value of the gifts and benefits she received. Additionally, following her prison term, she will be placed on two years of supervised release.
The charge involved Lewis’s dealings with Charles Thomas, the sole owner and president of a company in Maryland that provided technology services to agencies of the federal government and educational services to public school children in the Washington, D.C. area.
According to a statement of offense signed as part of her plea, between 2012 and 2015, Lewis provided Thomas with non-public information about pending HUD contracts in exchange for Thomas providing her with money, tickets to sporting events, designer handbags, and other items. The information that Lewis provided had not been disclosed publicly and gave Thomas’s company an unfair advantage in competing for contracts.
In a related prosecution, another former HUD employee, Kevin Jones, pled guilty on March 14, 2019, to a federal bribery charge stemming from a similar scheme in which he provided non-public information about pending HUD contracts to Thomas in exchange for tickets to sporting events, travel, and cash. Jones, 48, of Laurel, Md., was a former contract oversight specialist. He is to be sentenced on June 13, 2019. Jones has agreed to pay a forfeiture money judgment of $50,302, representing the value of the gifts that he received in the scheme.
Thomas, 45, of Lusby, Md., pled guilty in May 2018 to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery and two counts of conspiracy to pay gratuities and violate the Procurement Integrity Act. He is awaiting sentencing. In his plea, Thomas admitted to paying bribes to the two HUD employees as well as to an employee of the District of Columbia Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) in return for payments on contracts involving that agency.
The former District of Columbia employee, Shauntell Harley, 49, of Washington, D.C., was sentenced in July 2018 to 56 months in prison for accepting bribes in return for clearing the way for payments to be made to Thomas and another businessman.
In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Liu, Assistant Director in Charge McNamara, and Special Agent in Charge Sessoms commended the work of those who investigated the case from the FBI’s Washington Field Office and HUD’s Office of the Inspector General.
They acknowledged the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Paralegal Specialist Joshua Fein and former Paralegal Specialist Kristy Penny. Finally, they expressed appreciation for the work of Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter C. Lallas, who is investigating and prosecuting the matter.