USDA Contractor Admits To Giving Gifts To USDA Officials to Influence Award of Contracts and Obstructing Federal Grand Jury Investigation
WASHINGTON – Eric Schneider, a 60-year-old Virginia resident and former Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer of Communications Resource, Inc. (CRI), pled guilty on November 6, 2020 in federal court in the District of Columbia to one count of conspiracy to violate the Procurement Integrity Act and one count of obstruction of justice.
According to court papers, Schneider admitted to giving gifts to multiple officials at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to influence the award of contracts worth over $19.2 million to CRI and another company he controlled. Schneider admitted to giving USDA officials Corvette wheels, concert tickets, PGA tour tickets, meals, alcohol, strip clubs, parking, concierge medical services, prescription drugs, and other cash tips. Schneider further admitted that, as part of the conspiracy, he drafted or instructed employees to draft procurement documents in such a way as to favor the award of a multi-million dollar contract to CRI. Schneider then provided the documents to a USDA official to whom he provided gifts, for use in the procurement process as if they had been prepared by the USDA. Schneider also admitted to directing two CRI employees to destroy documents responsive to a federal grand jury subpoena.
Schneider pled guilty in United States District Court for the District of Columbia. United States District Judge Carl J. Nichols is presiding over the case. A sentencing date has not yet been set. The maximum penalty for conspiracy is five years in prison and a fine of not more than $250,000 or twice the pecuniary gain or loss of the offense. The maximum penalty for obstruction of justice is ten years of imprisonment.
The Washington Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Beltsville Field Office of the United States Department of Agriculture, Office of the Inspector General (OIG) investigated the case, along with assistance from the Department of Health and Human Services OIG, the Department of State OIG and the Small Business Administration OIG. Assistant United States Attorney Elizabeth Aloi of the Public Corruption and Civil Rights Section is prosecuting the case.