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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Oregon

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Former Gray Bear Construction Company Owner Sentenced for Lying to Obtain Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business Program (SDVOSB) Contracts

PORTLAND, Ore. - U.S. District Judge Michael W. Mosman today sentenced John Witty, 67, of Portland, to pay a $206,844 fine and serve five years probation, for lying to the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) about being a service-disabled veteran. Witty will also be required to perform 100 hours of community service at a veterans' organization.

"The defendant's crime victimized the service-disabled veteran small business owners who deserved to be awarded these government contracts," said U.S. Attorney S. Amanda Marshall. "We will continue to investigate and aggressively prosecute federal procurement fraud."

Witty is the former owner and operator of Gray Bear Construction Company ("Gray Bear"). In November 2012, Witty pleaded guilty to one count of false statements. He admitted he falsely represented to the VA that Gray Bear was a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB), even though Witty had never been certified as a service-disabled veteran. Witty admitted that as a result of his false representations, the VA awarded Gray Bear approximately $5,849,372 in SDVOSB set-aside contracts from August 2009 through May 2011, and that Gray Bear was not eligible to receive those contracts.

Inspector General George Opfer, Department of Veterans Affairs, stated that, "Mr. Witty is the 15th individual prosecuted during the past year for defrauding a VA program intended to provide preference to service-disabled entrepreneurs whose sacrifices on behalf of our Nation have earned them the right to compete for Federal set-aside contracts. We are diligently investigating others elsewhere who have similarly defrauded this program and expect additional prosecutions. We are committed to ensuring the integrity of all VA programs and will continue to diligently pursue those individuals who, by fraud and deceit, abuse these programs."

This case stemmed from an investigation by the Department of Veteran Affairs, Office of Inspector General. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Stacie Beckerman.

Updated January 29, 2015