Businessman Sentenced to 14 Months in Prison for Paying Bribes to Federal and D.C. Employees

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            WASHINGTON – Charles M. Thomas, 47, was sentenced today to 14 months in prison for paying bribes to two employees of U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as well as to an employee of the District of Columbia Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) in return for favorable treatment on contracts for his business.

            The announcement was made by Acting U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips, Robert E. Bornstein, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office, Criminal Division, Christopher Gaffney, Special Agent in Charge, Office of Special Investigations, HUD Office of Inspector General, and Daniel W. Lucas, Inspector General for the District of Columbia.

            Thomas, of Lusby, Md., pleaded guilty in May 2018 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia., to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery and two counts of conspiracy to pay gratuities and violate the Procurement Integrity Act. He was sentenced by the Honorable Randolph D. Moss. As part of his plea agreement, he is required to pay restitution to the D.C. Office of the State Superintendent of Education in the amount of $179,999. He also must pay a forfeiture money judgment in the same amount. Additionally, following his prison term, he will be placed on two years of supervised release.

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            According to court documents, Thomas was the sole owner and president of a Maryland company that provided information technology services to agencies of the federal government and educational services to public school children in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. His company had offices in the District of Columbia and Virginia and dozens of employees.


            In his guilty plea, Thomas admitted to carrying out three schemes. One involved his dealings with a former management analyst of OSSE, an agency of the District of Columbia government. The others involved his dealings with a former contract oversight specialist and a former supervisory contract specialist with HUD.

            In 2013 and 2014, according to the government’s evidence, Thomas made approximately $53,000 in payments to OSSE employee Shauntell Harley. In return, she provided him with information needed to create fraudulent invoices reflecting the provision of early intervention services that Thomas’s company did not provide. All told, Harley used her official position to cause $179,999 in payments to be made to Thomas’s company for work that was not performed.

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            The activities involving HUD took place from approximately 2010 to 2015. Thomas provided HUD employee Kevin Jones with tickets to sporting events, travel, cash, and other items worth more than $50,000, in exchange for Jones providing Thomas and his company with non-public information about pending HUD contracts. Thomas provided the second employee, former supervisor LaFonda Lewis, with tickets to sporting events, designer handbags, cash, and other items, worth more than $23,000, in exchange for non-public information about contracts.

            Harley pleaded guilty to charges involving two bribery schemes in March 2018 and was sentenced to 56 months in prison. Lewis pleaded guilty to violating the Procurement Integrity Act in January 2019 and was sentenced to a year and a day in prison. Jones pleaded guilty to bribery in March 2019 and was sentenced to 24 months in prison.

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            In announcing the sentence, Acting U.S. Attorney Phillips, Special Agent in Charge Bornstein, Special Agent in Charge Gaffney, and Inspector General Lucas commended the work of those who investigated the case from the FBI’s Washington Field Office, HUD’s Office of the Inspector General, and the District of Columbia Office of the Inspector General.

            They acknowledged the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including former Paralegal Specialists Joshua Fein and Kristy Penny. Finally, they expressed appreciation for the work of Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter C. Lallas, who is investigating and prosecuting the matter.

 

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