Manhattan U.S. Attorney Announces Arrest Of Information Technology Specialist At The Northport Veterans Affairs Medical Center For Illegally Accepting Over $40,000 In Benefits From A Telecommunications Firm
Preet Bharara, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Jeffrey Hughes, the Special Agent-in-Charge of the Northeast Field Office of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General, Criminal Investigations Division (“VA-OIG”), announced today the unsealing of a Complaint charging KENNETH CZUMAK, an Information Technology Specialist with the Northport Veterans Affairs Medical Center (the “VAMC Northport”), with accepting more than $40,000 in benefits, including meals, golf outings, and car services, from a telecommunications firm that did business with the VAMC Northport. CZUMAK surrendered to the U.S. Marshals Service this morning. He was presented today in Manhattan federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ronald L. Ellis.
According to the Complaint unsealed today in Manhattan federal court:
The VAMC Northport is a medical center that provides healthcare services to veterans in Long Island and surrounding areas. Throughout the relevant time period, a telecommunications firm had a subcontract for approximately $6 million to provide voice and data infrastructure and related services to the VAMC Northport (the “Telecommunications Firm”). During this same time period, CZUMAK served as an Information Technology Specialist at the VAMC Northport, and was the primary point of contact for the Telecommunications Firm at the VAMC Northport.
As alleged in the Complaint, between January 2008 and June 2013, CZUMAK accepted a total of more than $40,000 in goods and services paid for by the Telecommunications Firm. Among other things, CZUMAK received meals, golf outings, hotel rooms, car services, and other benefits. According to an account executive at the Telecommunications Firm (“Account Executive-1”), Account Executive-1 spent approximately 20% of an annual $35,000 expense budget on CZUMAK, which was more than Account Executive-1 spent on any other customer of the Telecommunications Firm.
During the same time period, CZUMAK served as a reference for other potential clients of the Telecommunications Firm. For example, in approximately 2011, another account executive from the Telecommunications Firm (“Account Executive-2”) was attempting to win a new client, and referred that potential client to CZUMAK. Subsequently, CZUMAK stated to Account Executive-1 that CZUMAK had heard that the Telecommunications Firm had won that contract with Account Executive-2’s new client, and thought that he, CZUMAK, now had a nice dinner coming his way
In an interview with law enforcement agents in March of this year, CZUMAK acknowledged that he was aware from training he had received from VAMC Northport that, as a government employee, he could not accept gifts worth more than $15 from an outside source.
CZUMAK is charged with one count of illegal salary supplementation and faces a statutory maximum sentence of five years in prison. The maximum potential sentence in this case is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.
Mr. Bharara praised the work of the VA-OIG and the criminal investigators of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the investigation of this case.
This prosecution is being handled by the Office’s Public Corruption Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian A. Jacobs is in charge of the prosecution.
The charges contained in the Complaint are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.