CHICAGO — Two employees of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs pocketed cash from vendors in exchange for steering them orders for medical equipment, according to indictments returned in federal court in Chicago.
ANDREW LEE and KIMBERLY A. DYSON worked as Prosthetic Clerks in the Veterans Health Administration Prosthetics Service in Chicago. As part of their duties, Lee and Dyson selected vendors from which to order medical equipment for VA patients, and then paid the vendors using government purchase cards. In exchange for their efforts with certain vendors, Lee and Dyson allegedly received cash payments from individuals at the vendor companies.
Lee, 66, of Chicago, is charged with one count of wire fraud. Dyson, 49, of Chicago, is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit bribery and four counts of bribery.
The charges were announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and Gavin McClaren, Acting Special Agent-in-Charge of the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General’s Central Field Office. The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Heidi Manschreck.
“Schemes to fraudulently corrupt the procurement process cheat the government and deserving bidders,” said U.S. Attorney Lausch. “We will work aggressively with our law enforcement partners to safeguard our nation’s taxpayers.”
“The corruption of VA employees cannot be tolerated,” said Acting SAC McClaren. “These alleged fraudulent activities erode public trust and undermine the value of fair market competition. The VA OIG appreciates the US Attorney’s Office for its commitment in helping hold these defendants accountable.”
Lee and Dyson were charged in separate indictments returned Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Chicago.
United States v. Lee, et al, 21 CR 703
The charges allege that Lee schemed with DARREN A. SMITH, who operated a medical distribution company in Bolingbrook, Ill., to place orders for medical equipment from Smith’s company in exchange for cash kickbacks to Lee. Lee allegedly placed orders with Smith’s company for unnecessary and more costly monthly rentals of certain medical equipment – instead of purchasing the equipment as VA physicians had ordered – so that the VA would pay more money to Smith’s company. The scheme fraudulently caused the VA to overpay Smith’s company by more than $1.38 million from 2016 to 2020. In exchange, Lee pocketed kickbacks from Smith of at least $220,000, the indictment states.
In addition to the wire fraud count against Lee, the indictment charges Smith, 57, of Hazel Crest, Ill., with seven counts of wire fraud.
United States v. Dyson, et al, 21 CR 705
The charges accuse Dyson of conspiring with IRVIN R. LUCAS, IV, who owned a medical supply company in Romeoville, Ill., to place orders for medical equipment from Lucas’s company in exchange for cash payments to Dyson. The indictment describes several instances in which Dyson placed orders with Lucas’s company and then sent text messages to Lucas asking for certain amounts of cash. Lucas allegedly paid Dyson by transferring money into her checking account or providing her with a debit card to withdraw the funds. From 2018 to 2020, Dyson accepted at least $39,850 from Lucas for steering the orders to his company, the indictment states.
In addition to the conspiracy and bribery counts against Dyson, the indictment charges Lucas, 40, of North Hollywood, Calif., with one count of bribery conspiracy.
Arraignments in federal court in Chicago have not yet been scheduled.
The public is reminded that an indictment is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If convicted, the Court must impose reasonable sentences under federal statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.