LOUISVILLE, KY – A Louisville man was sentenced yesterday to 30 months in prison, payment of a $10,000 fine, and an order of restitution in the amount of $71,407, for his solicitation and receipt of bribes and kickbacks in the course of his service as a public official.
According to court documents, Jean-Joseph Saulnerond, 54, engaged in a long-running scheme to defraud the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) for the Commonwealth of Kentucky and others through his position as their Languages Other than Spanish (LOTS) Program Coordinator. As the LOTS Program Coordinator, Saulnerond was responsible for scheduling foreign language interpreters for court hearings within the Commonwealth of Kentucky and had the authority to award contracts and assign jobs for interpretation services. As part of his scheme, Saulnerond solicited and received bribes and kickbacks in exchange for awarding interpretation contacts and assigning jobs to provide interpretation services for the AOC to individual interpreters and a language services company. At times, he refused to award interpretation contracts and assign jobs to individuals and companies if they did not agree to pay him a bribe or kickback. As part of the scheme, interpreters inflated the hours worked on contracts with the AOC in order to be paid additional money to kickback to Saulnerond out of the contracts’ proceeds. Between 2011 and 2018, Saulnerond solicited and received over $70,000 in bribes and kickbacks from contractors.
“We will continue to prioritize the prosecution of government employees who manufacture schemes intended to defraud public agencies of taxpayer money,” stated Michael A. Bennett, United States Attorney for the Western District of Kentucky. I am grateful for the outstanding work of the prosecutors, investigators, and agents assigned to the case as well as the partnership of Kentucky Attorney General Cameron’s office and the FBI’s Louisville Field Office.”
“Public workers are entrusted by Kentuckians to be good stewards of state resources, and when that trust is violated through bribe and kickback schemes, those individuals must be held accountable for their crimes,” said Attorney General Cameron. “Our Department of Criminal Investigations worked closely with our partner agencies to investigate this scheme, and I appreciate the work of the FBI and U.S. Attorney Bennett’s office in this case.”
“While the vast majority of public officials serve their communities honorably, Mr. Saulnerond chose to betray the trust of taxpayers by lining his own pockets,” said Special Agent in Charge Jodi Cohen of the FBI’s Louisville Field Office. “Unfortunately, when one government employee chooses to abuse their position, the public’s trust in government erodes. The FBI will continue to aggressively investigate any corrupt public official who willfully and maliciously chooses to violate that trust.”
The Office of the Kentucky Attorney General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stephanie M. Zimdahl and Christopher Tieke prosecuted the case.
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