Company Owners Plead Guilty to $13.8 Million 'Rent-A-Vet' Scheme
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Timothy A. Garrison, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that former owners of a local construction company, Patriot Company, Inc., have pleaded guilty in federal court to their roles in a “rent-a-vet” scheme to fraudulently obtain more than $13.8 million in federal contracts.
Jeffrey K. Wilson, 53, of the Village of Loch Lloyd in Belton, Mo., pleaded guilty today before U.S. District judge Howard F. Sachs to one count of government program fraud. Paul R. Salavitch, 57, of Kansas City, Mo., pleaded guilty on Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018, to a misdemeanor charge of making a false writing.
Wilson, who is not a veteran, managed the day-to-day operations and the long-term decision making of Patriot Company from May 2005 to January 2014. Salavitch is a service-disabled veteran who falsely certified that he was involved in the day-to-day operations of Patriot Company. Salavitch’s purported active management qualified Patriot Company to obtain set-aside contracts to which it was not entitled.
Wilson admitted he used Salavitch’s veteran and service-disabled veteran status in a “rent-a-vet” scheme to obtain 20 government contracts for which Patriot Company received more than $13.8 million. As a result of the fraud scheme, legitimate veteran-owned-and-run businesses were not awarded these contracts.
Wilson’s plea agreement cites 20 contracts with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Army, totaling $13,819,522, which were fraudulently obtained by Wilson, Salavitch and Patriot Company. The contracts, which ranged as high as $4.3 million, included construction projects in Missouri, South Dakota, Texas, Nebraska Oklahoma, Michigan, Indiana, Tennessee, Iowa, Illinois and North Dakota.
In September 2013, the Veterans Administration conducted an unannounced site visit of Patriot Company. The site inspector discovered that Salavitch was working 40 miles away at his full-time job as a federal employee with the Department of Defense in Leavenworth, Kan. In November 2013, Salavitch falsely certified to the Missouri Division of Purchasing and Materials Management that Patriot Company was a legitimate service-disabled veteran-owned small business when he knew it was not because he did not actively run the company. In December 2013, the Veterans Administration de-certified Patriot Company.
Under the terms of today’s plea agreement, Wilson is subject to a sentence of up to 18 months in federal prison without parole. Salavitch is subject to a sentence of up to one year in federal prison without parole. Wilson and Salavitch must also consent to the federal civil forfeiture of approximately $2.1 million. Sentencing hearings will be scheduled after the completion of presentence investigations by the United States Probation Office.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jane Pansing Brown, Stacey Perkins Rock and Curt Bohling. It was investigated by the Department of Veterans Affairs – Office of Inspector General – Criminal Investigation Division and the General Services Administration – Office of Inspector General.