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Press Release

Former GSA Official and Husband Sentenced for Nepotism Scheme

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

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A former senior official with the General Services Administration and her husband were sentenced today to 18 months and 1 year in prison, respectively, for engaging in a nepotism hiring scheme.

Helen Renee Ballard (aka Renee Ballard), 52, and Robert S. Ballard (aka Steve Ballard), 56, both of Brandywine, Maryland, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to make false statements on March 23. Renee Ballard was the Director of the Central Office Contracting Division of the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) from May 2006 to May 2011 and worked for GSA until 2016. From 2010 through July 2014, Renee Ballard and her husband, Steve Ballard, engaged in a scheme to enrich themselves by obtaining employment with federal contractors and the U.S. government through false and misleading statements concerning Steve Ballard’s relation, education, and qualifications. As part of the more than $200,000 scheme, Renee and Steve Ballard fraudulently induced a federal contractor to hire Steve Ballard. The Arlington based contractor then placed Steve Ballard on a federal contract awarded by GSA and supervised by Renee Ballard. Later, Renee Ballard attempted to hire Steve Ballard for a federal civil service position within GSA under her supervision.

In addition, Renee and Steve Ballard caused over 139 false employment applications to be submitted to federal agencies, including the FBI, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, U.S. State Department, U.S. Transportation and Security Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Education, Federal Communications Commission, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Department of Labor, U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and the Internal Revenue Service. These applications falsely misrepresented Steve Ballard’s education and qualifications, including that he had earned or taken classes toward a master’s degree and was certified in government contracting at Levels I, II, and III. In order to corroborate these false representations, Renee and Steve Ballard obtained and submitted fake certification documents. Furthermore, the Ballards sent Steve Ballard’s false resume to the Executive Office of the President in an attempt to obtain employment there. Subsequently, Steve Ballard submitted false applications to at least six different private contractors who worked, at times on-site, with the federal agencies, including GSA and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Co-conspirator Donna C. Hughes, 32, of Lanham, Maryland, who served as a contracting officer at GSA and reported directly to Renee Ballard, pleaded guilty on April 21 in case 1:17-cr-66. Hughes was sentenced today to 1 year of probation for her role in the conspiracy.

Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; and Carol Fortine Ochoa, Inspector General, GSA, made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Claude Hilton. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Uzo Asonye and Katherine Wong prosecuted the case.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:16-cr-136.


Joshua Stueve
Director of Communications

Updated July 28, 2017

Public Corruption