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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Tennessee

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Government Contractor Convicted of Major Fraud against the United States

Memphis, TN – After two days of the trial before U.S. District Judge John T. Fowlkes, Jr., the defendantM. Cleve Collins entered a plea of guilty to the indictment charging him with one count of major fraud against the United States. D. Michael Dunavant, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee, announced the conviction today.

According to the indictment, M. Cleve Collins, aka Milton Cleve Collins aka Cleve Collins, 54, executed a scheme to defraud the United States on a construction contract valued at approximately one and one-half million dollars administered by the General Services Administration for the replacement of the roof and the air conditioning system at the Ed Jones Federal Courthouse and Post Office in Jackson, TN.

As part of the scheme to defraud, Collins caused the roofing subcontractor, a small Memphis-area business, to perform work for which he was never fully paid. Additionally, Collins filed false and fraudulent certifications with the U.S. Government indicating he had, in fact, paid the subcontractor. The value of the funds obtained because of this scheme was over $580,000.

"As the legal representative of the United States of America, it is the priority and duty of the U.S. Attorney’s Office to safeguard taxpayer funds, and to promote the responsible use and stewardship of such government resources for the benefit of our nation and our citizens. The major fraud committed by the defendant in this case is a serious crime of dishonesty and deceit that strikes at the very heart of those national interests, and will not be tolerated. The GSA and the FBI are to be commended for their diligent investigative work in uncovering and exposing this fraud, and I am pleased that we have achieved justice by holding the defendant accountable under the law," said D. Michael Dunavant, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee.

On November 17, 2016, Collins was indicted on one count of violation of major fraud against the United States. The sentencing hearing is set for March 1, 2018. The maximum penalty for major fraud against the United States is not more than 10 years, not more than a $5,000,000 fine, 3 years supervised release and a special assessment of $100.

"Federal contractors are obligated to follow through on their promises to make payments to their subcontractors," said GSA Inspector General Carol Fortine Ochoa. "When contractors fail to meet their obligations, we will hold them accountable."

"The FBI takes particular interest in cases where individuals, for their own personal benefit, use deceit and fraud to line their pockets," said Michael T. Gavin, Special Agent in Charge of the Memphis Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. "Fraud has a negative and long lasting impact on the community, and the honest and law abiding citizens who are fed up with the likes of those who, motivated merely by greed, violate the law, should be assured by this conviction that the FBI is committed to work closely with its law enforcement partners to vigorously pursue anyone who commits such crimes."

This case was investigated by Special Agent Steve Heckler of the General Services Administration, Office of the Inspector General and Special Agent Brent Hayden of the FBI. Assistant U.S. Attorney Tony Arvin is prosecuting this case on the government’s behalf.

Updated November 30, 2017