Jersey City Contractor Pleads Guilty To Bribing A VA Official
NEWARK, N.J. – A Jersey City, N.J. contractor admitted today that he bribed a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) official so that two companies with which he was affiliated could obtain favorable treatment from the VA , U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman announced.
Hitesh Desai, 42, of Jersey City, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Mary L. Cooper to an information charging him with one count of bribing a federal public official by promising to make $5,000 in corrupt payments in exchange for official action.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Desai was a contractor who worked on various construction projects for the VA. In 2012, Desai became affiliated with two businesses that were applying to be placed on a VA list known as the Multiple Award Task Order Contract (MATOC). Certain lucrative VA construction projects were available only to contractors who were placed on the MATOC list. Between October 2012 and February 2013, Desai offered and promised to make a $5,000 bribe payment to an official who worked at the VA, who Desai understood to be responsible for serving on a committee that would determine which contractors were placed on the MATOC list, in exchange for the official’s official assistance in placing the two businesses with which Desai was affiliated on the list. On Oct. 18, 2012, and Dec. 6, 2012, Desai made two cash payments, totaling $1,000, to the aforementioned official in exchange for the official’s official assistance in placing the two businesses with which he was affiliated on the VA’s MATOC list.
The count to which Desai pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of 15 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, twice the aggregate loss to victims or gain to the defendant, or three times the amount of the bribe payments. Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 2, 2013.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey Hughes, and special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford for the investigation in this case.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Vikas Khanna of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Special Prosecutions Division in Newark.
Defense counsel: Theodore Margolis, Bridgewater, N.J.