District of Columbia Fire/EMS Employee Pleads Guilty to Bribery in Scheme Involving Undelivered Goods

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FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.

            WASHINGTON—Louis “Joey” Mitchell, a former employee of the District of Columbia Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department (FEMS), pleaded guilty today to a federal bribery charge for accepting more than $60,000 in payments from a District of Columbia contractor in exchange for directing purchase agreements and orders to the contractor and then falsely certifying that goods that FEMS had paid for had been delivered.

            The announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves, Wayne A. Jacobs, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office’s Criminal Division, and Daniel W. Lucas, Inspector General for the District of Columbia.

            Mitchell, of Capitol Heights, Maryland, pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. He is to be sentenced on Sept. 16, 2022, by the Honorable Amit P. Mehta. As part of the plea agreement, Mitchell will be required to pay a $61,250 forfeiture money judgment.

            Mitchell was a warehouse supply technician at FEMS. In that role, he was responsible for verifying deliveries of goods to the warehouse before the agency would issue payments to the relevant vendors.  According to the plea documents, beginning in at least 2016 and continuing through in or about 2020, Mitchell and a FEMS contract administrator engaged in a bribery scheme with a contractor whose company was an approved vendor for supplies.

            According to the documents, Mitchell and the contract administrator solicited and received bribes from the contractor on at least seven occasions. In exchange, they directed purchase agreements and purchase orders to the company and confirmed delivery of and payment for goods that the company did not deliver.

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             As a result of the bribery scheme, FEMS paid the company more than $150,000 for goods that never were delivered. Mitchell personally received at least $61,250 in bribes from the contractor.

            Law enforcement opened an investigation into the conduct after FEMS officials discovered billing anomalies and referred the matter to the District of Columbia Office of the Inspector General and the FBI for investigation. Mitchell was arrested on Feb. 10, 2022.

            This case is being investigated by FBI’s Washington Field Office and D.C. Office of Inspector General.  The case is being prosecuted by the Assistant U.S. Attorneys Molly Gaston and Amanda Vaughn of the Fraud, Public Corruption, and Civil Rights Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.