Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Huntington Man Sentenced for Illegally Accessing Veterans' Records

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – A Huntington man was sentenced to six months in prison for illegally accessing the medical records of six veterans, announced United States Attorney Mike Stuart.  Jeffrey Miller, 40, a former Veterans Benefits Administration employee, was also sentenced to one year of supervised release.

“We must protect our veterans. Miller used his position with the Veterans Benefits Administration to illegally access the medical records of veterans,” said United States Attorney Mike Stuart.  “Medical records are protected information and veterans have an expectation and right of privacy.  We will prosecute anyone who violates our veterans.”

Miller previously admitted that he illegally accessed the medical records of six veterans between January and May of 2018.  Miller further admitted that he took a picture of the medical records of former West Virginia State Senator Richard Ojeda, and then sent the picture to an acquaintance.

The Department of Veterans Affairs – Officer of the Inspector General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)  conducted the investigation.   United States District Judge Robert C. Chambers presided over the hearing.  Assistant United States Attorney Stefan Hasselblad handled the prosecution.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Businessman Sentenced To Two-And-A-Half Years Imprisonment For Conspiring To Bribe Veterans Affairs Official

Anthony Bueno arranged for undercover FBI agent to make payments to VA official Dwane Nevins for purpose of manipulating government contracting process

DENVER – United States Attorney Jason R. Dunn announced today that Anthony Bueno, age 45, was sentenced to serve 30 months in federal prison followed by 3 years of supervised release for his role in a conspiracy to bribe a VA official so that clients of his company would gain an unfair advantage in the VA contracting process.  Bueno was remanded into custody immediately after the sentencing hearing.  The FBI’s Denver Field Office and the Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General, Criminal Investigations Division, Central Field Office joined in today’s announcement.

According to court records, Bueno and his business partner, Robert Revis, agreed to help an undercover FBI agent, who was posing as a veteran and small business owner, bribe a contracting specialist at the VA’s Network Contracting Office in Colorado, Dwane Nevins.  As part of the bribery scheme, Bueno and Revis, working with Nevins, agreed to submit bids from small businesses owned by veterans disabled during military service (one of whom was the undercover FBI agent) under contract with Buenon and Revis’ consulting company so that federal contracts would be set aside for only those companies.  As Bueno explained to the undercover agent, the conspirators would then “own all the dogs on the track”, meaning their clients were guaranteed to get the contracts. Bueno, Revis and Nevins worked to conceal the nature of the bribe payments by either kicking back to Nevins a portion of the payments made to the consulting company, or by asking the consulting company’s clients to pay Nevins directly for sham training classes related to federal contracting.

Dwane Nevins, who pleaded guilty in September 2019 to every count of an indictment charging him with this scheme, including counts of conspiracy, receiving bribes, extortion, and criminal conflicts of interests, is scheduled to be sentenced on February 19, 2020.  Robert Revis pleaded guilty in April 2019 to an Information charging him with a single count of supplementing the salary of a federal official.  His sentencing hearing is scheduled for March 2, 2020.  Bueno pleaded guilty on September 17, 2019.

Bueno has also pleaded guilty to conspiring to launder money arising from a completely separate wire fraud scheme in which he used false representations about investment opportunities to take over a million dollars from several victims.  Sentencing in that case, pending before United States District Judge William J. Martinez, is scheduled for January 23, 2019.

“Illegally manipulating the government contracting process will result in harsh consequences,” said U.S. Attorney Jason Dunn.  “Mr. Bueno will now have more than 2 years in federal prison and a lifetime as a convicted felon to think about the harm he caused taxpayers.”

“As today’s sentencing of Anthony Bueno demonstrates, we will continue to hold accountable those individuals who, at the expense of our veterans and taxpayers, engage in corrupt schemes to defraud the government," said FBI Denver Special Agent in Charge Dean Phillips.

“This sentence illustrates the serious consequences of undermining the federal contracting process,” said Gregg Hirstein, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General. “We will always hold accountable those who seek to corrupt the VA’s business practices.”   

The case was jointly investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General, with substantial assistance from the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Inspector General.

The defendant was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge R. Brooke Jackson and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Bryan D. Fields and Hetal J. Doshi.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Former U.S. Navy Contractor and its President Sentenced for Scheme Related to Transfer of U.S. Navy Submarine Rescue Technology

           WASHINGTON – Former U.S. Navy Contractor, Canada-based OceanWorks International Cooperation (“OceanWorks”) was sentenced on December 2, 2019, for a scheme to falsify facts in a disclosure to the Department of Commerce and the company’s president, Glen Omer Viau, 52, of British Columbia, Canada, was sentenced for unauthorized use of government property.

           U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu, Perrye K. Turner, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Houston, and Douglas R. Hassebrock, Acting Assistant Secretary for Export Enforcement, U.S. Department of Commerce made the announcement.

           On September 10, 2019, OceanWorks pled guilty to a one-count information charging it with knowingly and willfully falsifying, concealing, and covering up a material fact, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1001, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. OceanWorks’ President, Glen Omer Viau, pleaded guilty to conveying, without authority, U.S. Navy technical data to an unauthorized party. The Honorable Colleen Kollar-Kotelly sentenced OceanWorks to a fine of $84,000 and Viau to time served and a $25,000 fine.

           According to the government’s evidence, the OceanWorks scheme, which started in 2016, involved misrepresenting to and concealing from, the Office of Export Enforcement within the Department of Commerce, the true nature and extent of the transfer of U.S. Navy technical data to China. The scheme was performed in connection with a proposal by OceanWorks and an unindicted company based in China (“the Chinese Company”) to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy for the design and construction of remotely-operated submarine rescue vehicles.

           OceanWorks was the prime contractor for the U.S. Navy’s Submarine Rescue Diving and Recompression System (“SRDRS”). One component of the SRDRS was the submarine rescue system, a tethered, remotely-operated vehicle that included a Pressurized Rescue Module (“PRM”). The Department of Commerce issued a formal determination that the PRM and its technical data could not be exported to China without a license and were controlled under U.S. regulations.

           In 2016, OceanWorks was sold to the Chinese Company. Viau was hired as President of OceanWorks soon thereafter.

           After Viau was hired as President, from approximately November 2016 to February 2017, OceanWorks sent U.S. Navy technical data, including multi-page technical drawings, on the PRM, a component of the U.S. Navy’s submarine rescue system, to an employee of OceanWorks and the Chinese Company. OceanWorks transferred this data to assist with a proposal to develop a similar submarine rescue vehicle system for the PLA Navy. At least one of the multi-page technical drawings was export-controlled and required a license before being sent to China.

           In 2017, the Canadian Government ordered the divestiture of the OceanWorks acquisition. Following the divesture, in March 2018, OceanWorks filed with the Department of Commerce’s Office of Export Enforcement a Voluntary Self Disclosure (“VSD”) identifying export violations that had occurred before Viau became President of OceanWorks. However, in the VSD, OceanWorks omitted that the Chinese Company sought to enter the same industry as the U.S. Navy and that OceanWorks worked on a proposal to design a submarine rescue system for the PLA Navy.

           In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Liu, Special Agent in Charge Turner, and Assistant Secretary Hassebrock acknowledged the work of those who investigated the case from the FBI’s Houston Field Office, Commerce’s Office of Export Enforcement, and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation. They also praised the work of Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jeff Pearlman, Jolie F. Zimmerman, and Thomas Gillice of the District of Columbia, and Trial Attorney David Recker of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section, who investigated and prosecuted the case.