Defense Contractor Sentenced To 30 Months In Federal Prison For $53 Million Procurement Fraud And Illegal Gratuities Scheme
JUNE 27, 2017
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact ELIZABETH MORSE
www.justice.gov/usao/md at (410) 209-4885
Baltimore, Maryland – On June 27, 2017, U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis sentenced Andrew Bennett, age 37, of Tampa, Florida to 30 months in prison, followed by 36 months of supervised release, for a wire fraud conspiracy and for paying illegal gratuities to a government official, in connection with the award of more than $53 million in federal government contracts. Judge Garbis also ordered Bennett to pay forfeiture and restitution in the amount of $500,000.00
Co-conspirator John Wilkerson, age 51, of Moultrie, Georgia was previously sentenced to five years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. James T. Shank, who was separately charged and has pled guilty, was a Program Manager at the United States Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare (SPAWAR) Systems Center.
The sentence was announced by Acting United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Stephen M. Schenning; Commander of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (OSI); Special Agent in Charge Robert Craig, Special Agent in Charge, Robert E. Craig Jr, Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS), Mid-Atlantic Field Office; and U.S. Small Business Administration Acting Inspector General Mike Ware.
According to Bennett’s plea agreement, he was a program manager for Advanced C4 Solutions, or AC4S, from 2005 until 2011. AC4S was an information technology company headquartered in Tampa, Florida. In 2011, Bennett left AC4S and went to work for Co-conspirator Wilkerson at Superior Communications Solutions, Inc. (SCSI). According to co-conspirator Shank’s indictment, from August 28, 2006 until he retired on June 30, 2011, Shank was employed as a Program Manager at the United States Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare (SPAWAR) Systems Center. Shank worked with agencies within the Department of Defense to procure telecommunications equipment, software, and related services. According to his plea agreement, Wilkerson was a Department of Defense Account Manager for Iron Bow Technologies, LLC (Iron Bow), which provided IT consulting and other services to government and industry customers. Wilkerson was also part-owner and operated Superior Communications Solutions, Inc. (SCSI).
From September 2009 through August 2012 Bennett conspired with Wilkerson, to give them and the companies they worked for and/or owned an unfair competitive advantage in obtaining government contracts. Court documents state that Wilkerson offered, and Shank accepted, employment with SCSI while Shank was still a government employee and while he was taking official actions that benefited Wilkerson. In addition, Wilkerson paid Shank $86,000 in the year after Shank retired from government service, funneling the payment through two other companies in order to conceal the source of the funds.
According to Bennett’s plea agreement, Shank improperly shared information with Bennett and Wilkerson, and worked with them to structure the government contracts so as to give their companies an unfair advantage over other potential bidders.
For example, according to Bennett’s indictment, Bennett and Wilkerson developed a request for proposal (RFP) for DO27, a contract to supply labor services for an Air Force technology project, including for overall project management services, so that AC4S would win the contract. On June 10, 2010, DO27 was awarded to AC4S in the amount of $18,332,738.10. Wilkerson provided Bennett with a quote for labor for the installation of specific technology on behalf of SCSI that was less than the quote he had previously submitted on behalf of Iron Bow as their sales representative. After SCSI was selected as a subcontractor on DO27, it subcontracted with Iron Bow to provide most of the labor SCSI was supposed to provide under DO27 for the installation of the technology. Wilkerson was able to earn income from the work Iron Bow employees were doing by having SCSI act as a middleman and charging a mark-up on Iron Bow’s work. Bennett and Wilkerson then directed an SCSI employee to create false invoices supposedly documenting the hours SCSI employees spent working on DO27, which were submitted to AC4S and paid by the United States government. SCSI received $6,794,432.98 on DO27 out of the $18 million AC4S received for providing labor for the project.
In February 2011, Bennett left AC4S and went to work for Wilkerson at SCSI. According to the plea agreement, Bennett received a $500,000 bonus when he joined SCSI, which was paid for by profit Wilkerson had earned on the Air Force contracts.
By March 2011, the Air Force project was incomplete and there were numerous contract disputes related to the project. Shank was directed not to take any other action related to the project without the approval of a senior manager. Nevertheless, in April 2011, Shank accepted more than $3.7 million worth of invoices that benefited SCSI without informing the senior manager. In May, 2011, after Shank accepted employment with SCSI, but was still working for SPAWAR, he allegedly approved more than $1.1 million worth of invoices that benefitted SCSI and Wilkerson.
The National Procurement Fraud Task Force was formed in October 2006 to promote the early detection, identification, prevention and prosecution of procurement fraud associated with the increase in government contracting activity for national security and other government programs. The Procurement Fraud Task Force includes the United States Attorneys’ Offices, the FBI, the U.S. Inspectors General community and a number of other federal law enforcement agencies. This case, as well as other cases brought by members of the Task Force, demonstrate the Department of Justice’s commitment to helping ensure the integrity of the government procurement process.
Acting United States Attorney Stephen M. Schenning thanked Air Force OSI, Defense Criminal Investigative Service, and the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of the Inspector General for their work in the investigation. Mr. Schenning commended Assistant U.S. Attorneys Leo J. Wise and Philip A. Selden, who are prosecuting the case.