Maryland Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Charges In Contract Kickbacks and Phony Billing Schemes
Businessman's Actions Cheated Investment Banking Firm
WASHINGTON – Bryan D. Wright, 53, of Laytonsville, Md., pled guilty today to taking part in a scheme in which he paid kickbacks to an executive with an investment banking firm in return for construction management contracts, announced U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips and Paul M. Abbate, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.
In addition, Wright admitted taking part in a related scheme in which he submitted invoices for work that was not performed.
Wright pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to engage in wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to engage in money laundering. Conspiracy to engage in wire fraud carries a statutory maximum of five years in prison and conspiracy to engage in money laundering carries up to 10 years. Both charges also carry potential financial penalties. Under federal sentencing guidelines, Wright faces a likely range of 27 to 33 months in prison and a fine of up to $100,000. The Honorable Amy Berman Jackson is to sentence Wright at a date to be determined later.
The plea agreement calls for Wright to pay restitution to the investment banking firm. He also must pay a forfeiture money judgment of $623,347, representing his share of the illegal proceeds generated by the schemes. The plea agreement further calls for Wright to forfeit his interest in assets seized as part of the investigation, including $320,227.13 from bank accounts and six rare coins.
According to a statement of offense, signed by the defendant as well as the government, Wright is the president of P&E Services, a company used in furtherance of the scheme.
The statement of offense describes these activities from 2011 through 2013:
In mid-2011, Wright was contacted by a person described in court documents as “Co-Conspirator 1.” This person was a vice president in the Washington, D.C. office of an investment banking firm and oversaw the firm’s real estate development investments in the regional area. In that role, “Co-Conspirator 1” was authorized to approve construction-related invoices.
Over the months that followed, “Co-Conspirator 1” steered construction management contracts to Wright, tied to a commercial development project in Hanover, Md. Between October 2011 and May 2013, “Co-Conspirator 1” authorized $760,609 in payments from the investment banking firm to Wright’s company, P&E Services. Additionally, “Co-Conspirator 1” directed a general contracting company hired for the project to make payments to P&E Services; the contractor paid P&E Services $417,708 between January 2012 and January 2013. The investment banking firm reimbursed the contractor for the money that was paid to P&E Services.
In total, Wright and P&E Services received approximately $1,178,317 in payments from the investment banking firm and general contracting company. In turn, Wright paid “Co-Conspirator 1” approximately $588,622 of the funds, retaining the other $589,695.
In a related scheme, Wright conspired with “Co-Conspirator 1” to submit three phony invoices to the investment banking firm. Wright received $114,003 from this scheme. He paid “Co-Conspirator 1” $80,351 of these proceeds, retaining the other $33,652.
Wright retained a total of $623,347 from his participation in the two schemes.
No other charges have been filed in the investigation, which is ongoing.
In announcing the plea, U.S. Attorney Phillips and Assistant Director in Charge Abbate commended the work of those who investigated the case from the FBI’s Washington Field Office. They also expressed appreciation for the work of those who handled the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Paralegal Specialists Tasha Harris and C. Rosalind Pressley and Legal Assistants Angela Lawrence and John Lowell. Finally, they acknowledged the work of Assistant U.S. Attorneys David A. Last and Zia Faruqui, who are investigating and prosecuting the matter.