Richmond City Department of Public Works Employee Pleads Guilty to Fraud Scheme
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Virginia
RICHMOND, Va. – A Richmond woman pleaded guilty today to using her position within the City of Richmond Department of Public Works (DPW) to steer governmental contract awards towards herself and her co-conspirators.
According to court documents, Shaun Lindsey, 53, is a Senior Administrative Technician at DPW, a governmental entity responsible for providing engineering, technical, and administrative services to Richmond residents. Before she was placed on administrative leave in February 2022, Lindsey was responsible for managing and obtaining approval for DPW procurements with outside vendors.
From at least 2018 through 2021, Lindsey and her co-conspirators operated a scheme to defraud the DPW. Lindsey and her co-conspirators owned and operated straw companies to bid on DPW work, circumventing Virginia law and City of Richmond rules against self-dealing by public employees. Additionally, Lindsey and her co-conspirators designated and approved DPW work to be performed by these straw companies using their positions at DPW. In some instances, the work to be performed was completely fabricated and no such work was ever needed. In other instances, the work was actually performed by DPW employees, not by contracted vendors. Sometimes, Lindsey and her co-conspirators subcontracted the work out for profit upon winning the DPW work.
Where procurement amounts exceeded $5,000, a DPW approval threshold requiring that work be competitively bid, Lindsey manufactured fictitious straw bids on behalf of competitor companies to engineer Lindsey’s preferred company winning the work. In one instance, Lindsey steered a $28,700 contract award to her boyfriend. Finally, within days of Lindsey’s straw company winning work, she sent checks for a portion of the funds to a senior DPW leader, Lindsey’s co-conspirator.
In another example, in early 2019, DPW sought to have overgrown foliage at Parker Field, an area in Richmond, cleared in advance of Fourth of July celebrations that same year. Though Lindsey knew mowing of the field was being performed by DPW employees, she nevertheless created and obtained approval of a requisition request in the DPW purchase order system for a company owned by the wife of a senior DPW leader to mow the entire area 16 times in four days, at a total cost of $4,800. In a different instance, in December 2020, DPW leadership sought to set up holiday decorations of Richmond-area bridges. In response, Lindsey generated a requisition request for her own straw company and thereafter sub-contracted the work out at a profit. The subcontractor believed they had contracted with the City of Richmond, not with Lindsey’s personal company, and when Lindsey failed to pay the sub-contractor the balance for the work, the sub-contractor sought payment directly from the City of Richmond. The City of Richmond then had to pay the subcontractor – effectively paying twice for the same work. In all, Lindsey and her co-conspirators fraudulently caused DPW to disburse at least $603,701 in funds to companies owned by Lindsey and her co-conspirators, causing $226,767 in loss to DPW.
Lindsey is scheduled to be sentenced on August 29. She faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Stanley M. Meador, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Richmond Field Office; and James Osuna, Inspector General, City of Richmond Office of the Inspector General, made the announcement after U.S. District Judge M. Hannah Lauck accepted the plea.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Avi Panth is prosecuting 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. 3:22-cr-53.
Updated May 9, 2023