Acting U.S. Attorney Bridget M. Brennan announced that William H. Precht, 54, of Kent, Ohio, was sentenced today by Judge Donald C. Nugent to 37 months imprisonment and ordered to pay $1,259,390.66 in restitution after Precht pleaded guilty to theft of government property and participating in a bribery and kickback scheme that enriched himself and caused the Cleveland VA Medical Center to suffer a loss of nearly $200,000.
Precht pleaded guilty in March of 2021 to a 28-count indictment charging him with theft of government property, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and honest services fraud, wire fraud and false statements relating to health care matters.
“Public corruption by VA employees erodes trust in the Department and diverts taxpayer money intended for our nation’s veterans,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Gavin McClaren of the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General’s Central Field Office. “The VA OIG appreciates our partnership with the US Attorney’s Office and their commitment to helping us hold these defendants accountable.”
According to court documents, from October of 2010, through January of 2019, Precht worked as an Inventory Management Specialist and later as a Supervisory Management and Program Analyst at the Cleveland VA Medical Center. Through his positions at the VA, Precht could order medical supplies, purchase capital equipment and monitor requests for equipment purchases.
Using his position and his VA employee log-in information, Precht registered a purported vendor (Vendor-1) as a Small Disadvantaged Business and Veteran-Owned Small Business in the VA vendor system. Beginning in October of 2010, Precht used his VA purchase card and other employee cards to purchase purported medical supplies from Vendor-1, a company he controlled, in the amount of approximately $1,066,348.
In addition, from May of 2015 through January of 2019, Precht conspired with Robert A. Vitale, a medical sales representative for multiple companies that conducted business with the Cleveland VA, to devise a scheme in which Precht would receive kickbacks and other items of value, in exchange for steering VA business and other monetary awards to Vitale.
In order to conceal his schemes, Precht provided false and misleading information to VA employees about reasons for ordering medical supplies and falsified patient records. As a result, the Cleveland VA suffered a loss of $193,042.66.
Robert. A. Vitale pleaded guilty to a Bill of Information on October 13, 2021, for his role in the scheme.
The investigation was conducted by the Department of Veterans Affairs – Office of the Inspector General, Cleveland and the Cleveland Division of the FBI. This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian McDonough.