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Press Release

Former Public Official Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy to Commit Wire and Honest Services Fraud

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

            WASHINGTON – Bridgette Crowell, a former public official who managed government contracts at the District of Columbia’s Office of Contracting and Procurement (OCP) and, before that, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), pleaded guilty today for participating in a scheme in which she reaped benefits from steering lucrative government contracts to her co-conspirators' private companies.

            The guilty plea was announced by U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves, FBI Special Agent in Charge David J. Scott of the Washington Field Office Criminal and Cyber Division, Acting Inspector General Kevin B. Muhlendorf of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Office of Inspector General, and Inspector General Daniel W. Lucas of the D.C. Office of the Inspector General.

            Crowell, 39, of Laurel, Maryland, pleaded guilty to a one-count criminal Information charging her with conspiracy to commit wire and honest services fraud. U.S. District Court Judge Tanya S. Chutkan scheduled sentencing for September 6, 2024.

            In a related case, Obinna Ogbu, 52, of Silver Spring, Maryland, also pleaded guilty to a one-count criminal Information charging him with conspiracy to commit wire and honest services fraud for his conduct as an employee at WMATA and his actions with Crowell at OCP.  In another matter, Ifediora Oli, 41, of Silver Spring, Maryland, was previously charged with conspiracy. He has pleaded not guilty and is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. 

            “The defendants have admitted to a corrupt scheme where government contracts were steered to companies that unlawfully paid government officials in connection with the contracts,” said US Attorney Graves. “Such corruption of our government agencies will not be tolerated.  We commend the diligent work of our investigative partners who helped uncover a multiyear conspiracy to defraud WMATA, the District of Columbia, and the District’s citizens.”

            “Crowell misused her position to steer lucrative contracts to private companies, and in return, she received cash payments and a new car,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Scott. “The FBI Washington Field Office, in coordination with our federal and district partners, worked tirelessly to unmask this scheme, and we will continue to investigate allegations of criminal activity that degrade community trust in our public servants."

            “These guilty pleas highlight WMATA OIG’s commitment to investigating procurement fraud impacting WMATA activities,” said Acting Inspector General Muhlendorf. “The OIG will continue to work with our investigative partners to pursue those who violate the public’s trust for personal gain.”

            “These judicial outcomes highlight the unfortunate fact that taxpayers become the victim when government employees and contractors collude to enrich themselves unjustly,” said Inspector General Lucas.  “The DC OIG and our law enforcement partners remain steadfast in our shared commitment to hold accountable those who seek to deprive District residents of the benefits of their tax dollars.”

            According to court documents, Crowell began working at the District’s Office of Contracting and Procurement (OCP) in 2019 as a contracting specialist. Before that, she worked at WMATA as a contract administrator. Crowell first met her co-conspirators when working at WMATA. Ogbu was a WMATA employee. Oli was an employee at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, but separately held himself out as the Principal of Highbury Global Group, Inc. (Highbury).  By 2021, Crowell understood that her co-conspirators had orchestrated a bribery scheme in which Ogbu received things of value for misusing his position at WMATA and steering WMATA-related business opportunities to Oli and Highbury.

            While at OCP, Crowell agreed to steer government contracts to Highbury and another company created by Ogbu, The Nupath Company (Nupath), in exchange for things of value.  Crowell misused her official position at OCP by, among other things: alerting her co-conspirators to upcoming solicitations; providing them with non-public information about the solicitations, including information regarding contract pricing; helping Highbury and Nupath secure government contracts; and taking multiple steps to conceal her personal connections to Highbury and Nupath.   

            Crowell’s misconduct led to Highbury obtaining a $630,000 contract with the District to provide the District’s Department of Forensic Sciences (DFS) with COVID-19 Testing Supplies; Nupath receiving a $27,000 contract to provide the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) with certain equipment; and Nupath being awarded a nearly $850,000 contract to provide MPD with assistance carrying out pre-employment suitability background investigations for officer candidates. For her official actions and participation in the fraudulent schemes, Crowell received things of value from her co-conspirators, including as much as $10,000 cash per month, a new car, and assistance with closing costs for a new home.

            As part of his guilty plea, Ogbu admitted that his misconduct began in 2018 and ultimately resulted in Highbury and Nupath receiving roughly $2 million in funds originating from WMATA and District contracts.  

            The investigation into this matter was conducted by the FBI’s Washington Field Office, with the WMATA Office of the Inspector General, and the District of Columbia Office of the Inspector General. The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Tim Visser of the Fraud, Public Corruption, and Civil Rights Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.



Updated June 6, 2024

Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: 24-493