Former Air Force Employee and Two Contractors Charged with Bribery, Theft of Government Funds, Fraud, and Making False Statements Relating to Air Force Contracts
PENSACOLA, FLORIDA – A federal grand jury has returned a 34-count indictment charging three individuals with conspiracy, bribery, theft of government funds, disclosing or obtaining contractor bid and proposal information, honest services mail fraud, money laundering conspiracy, and making false statements. The indictment was announced by Pamela C. Marsh, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida. Two of the three, who were charged, John Norman Sims and Ronald Benton Powers, were arrested on federal warrants today and made their initial appearances in United States District Court in the District of Columbia and the Middle District of Florida. The third defendant, George Guyton Cannady is expected to make his initial appearance on the charges within the next several days.
The indictment charges Sims (51), formerly of Niceville, Fla., and currently living in North Carolina; Cannady (63), a North Carolina resident; and Powers (58), of Jacksonville, Fla., with conspiring to defraud the United States Air Force (USAF) of approximately $5.4 million worth of contracts to support a USAF activity. The indictment charges that Sims, a retired USAF officer, while a contractor and civilian employee of the USAF, accepted bribes from Cannady, the owner of a company obtaining contracts from the USAF, and from Powers, who also owned companies providing services to the USAF. The bribes were allegedly paid to Sims so that he would continue to steer valuable USAF contracts to companies owned by Cannady and Powers.
According to the indictment, the three defendants agreed to obtain contracts from the USAF by using the insider knowledge, expertise, and access of Sims with respect to military operations and USAF activity, the expertise and knowledge of Cannady as a contractor with experience supporting USAF activity, and the expertise and ability of Powers to locate, lease, and provide equipment and items necessary for the USAF activity. Additionally, the indictment alleges that Sims improperly provided acquisition requirements and pricing data for future USAF contracts to Cannady and Powers, and that Sims would shape the requirements for USAF contracts to match equipment or items that Powers possessed or could readily obtain. The defendants are also charged with making false statements to USAF investigators and USAF officials concerning their financial relationships with each other and their activities.
Sims was also charged in a separate count of the indictment with the unauthorized possession of classified materials after his employment with the USAF ended.
A trial date for the three defendants will be set when the three defendants appear in this District on their arraignment on the charges. If convicted at trial, each of the three defendants face up to twenty years imprisonment, three years of supervised release, and up to a $250,000 fine on the charges in the indictment.
The indictment results from an investigation by agents of the United States Air Force Office of Special Investigations and the FBI. United States Attorney Pamela C. Marsh, Assistant United States Attorney Stephen M. Kunz, and Department of Justice Trial Attorney Robert Wallace, Jr., are prosecuting this case.
An indictment is merely a formal charge by a grand jury that a defendant has committed a violation of federal criminal law. All defendants are presumed innocent unless and until the government proves their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt to the satisfaction of a jury at trial.