Former U.S. Army Employee At Picatinny Arsenal Admits Receiving Bribes And Directing Kickbacks
NEWARK, N.J. – A Pennsylvania man admitted today that he abused his position as an employee of the U.S. Army Contracting Command New Jersey (ACC-NJ) in connection with his role in two conspiracies in construction projects at Picatinny Arsenal (PICA) and at Joint Base McGuire-Dix Lakehurst (Ft. Dix), U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.
Kevin Leondi, 57, of Stroudsberg, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Susan D. Wigenton in Newark federal court to Count One, conspiring to defraud the United States by soliciting and accepting bribes, and Count Two, conspiring to steer kickbacks from one conspirator to another.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Leondi represented the Army in renovation projects at PICA and Ft. Dix. A company referred to in the indictment as “Construction Company No. 1” served as a Job Order Contractor, also known as a “prime contractor,” for construction projects at PICA and Fort Dix. James Conway was employed by Construction Company No. 1 as a regional project manager of large-scale projects at PICA and Ft. Dix. George Grassie ran a construction, excavating and landscaping business in Pennsylvania that did subcontracting work at the bases.
From December 2010 through August 2015, Leondi solicited and accepted more than $150,000 in bribes from Grassie and others in return for task orders and other favorable assistance at the bases, and for not denying them future work. Leondi and the conspirators would disguise the bribes in the form of facially legitimate transactions, with Leondi buying vehicles and equipment from the conspirators at cut-rate prices or selling them equipment at inflated prices. In another instance, Leondi had Grassie absorb the costs that another contractor incurred in renovating property that Leondi owned in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania.
Leondi also admitted that he conspired to steer at least $48,000 in corporate kickbacks from Grassie to Conway to improperly obtain and reward Conway for his giving subcontracts and other favorable assistance to Grassie relating to Conway’s employer’s contracts with the federal government at PICA and Ft. Dix. The kickbacks included cash payments to help Conway pay his mortgage as well as free construction work at Conway’s home in Pennsylvania.
Grassie pleaded guilty in February 2017 to one count of conspiracy and one count of providing unlawful kickbacks for his role in the bribery and kickback conspiracies. Conway pleaded guilty to accepting unlawful kickbacks and a wire fraud charge involving other fraudulent conduct in August 2016. Both defendants are awaiting sentencing.
Each conspiracy charge carries a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 30, 2019.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Gregory W. Ehrie; the U.S. Department of Defense, Defense Criminal Investigative Service, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Leigh-Alistair Barzey; and the U.S. Army, Major Procurement Fraud Unit, Criminal Investigation Command, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Larry Scott Moreland, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.
The government is represented by Senior Trial Counsel Leslie Faye Schwartz and Senior Trial Counsel Mark J. McCarren, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Special Prosecutions Division.
Defense counsel: Thomas Calcagni Esq. and Peter Katz Esq., Newark