Potomac Man Charged in Scheme That Bilked Millions From State Department
Federal investigators believe man helped orchestrate a contract that overcharged the agency
A Potomac man who was working for a federal contractor is accused of bilking the State Department out of millions of dollars by overcharging for the lease of a training camp to be used by Iraqi police officers.
Jose Rivera, a former DynCorp worker, was indicted by a federal grand jury in March on one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States for his role in the scheme. He was arrested May 25 in Potomac.
He faces the charge along with Emil Popescu, a Romanian national, who investigators say worked with a third man—Wesley Struble—at another company in 2011 that was leasing a camp known as “Camp Butler II” from an Iraqi-owned company. At that time, the firm was leasing the camp for $124,000 per month.
Meanwhile, Rivera was looking for a camp to lease under a State Department contract with DynCorp, according to the federal indictment.
In May 2011, according to federal court documents, Rivera met with Popescu and Struble in Baghdad. Rivera and Struble had worked together previously and knew each other. At the meeting, the three men hashed out a kickback scheme in which they would end the current lease for Camp Butler II and renegotiate a new lease with DynCorp for five times more than what the previous lease cost, according to federal prosecutors and The Washington Post, which first reported the story. As part of the plan, Popescu went to work for the Iraqi company and persuaded it to end the original lease, according to the indictment, while Struble joined Rivera at DynCorp.
The men sent information to the State Department that indicated the previous lease for the camp was for about $665,000 per month. Ultimately, DynCorp accepted that lease and charged the State Department $5.32 million to lease the camp from September 2011 through April 2012, according to the indictment.
For more than two years, Popescu transmitted periodic kickbacks to Rivera and Struble that totaled at least $400,000, according to prosecutors. Some of the kickback money was transported from Iraq by Rivera and Struble; other payments were concealed in electronic items such as speakers that were mailed to their family members, according to the indictment.
Federal prosecutors wrote that Rivera was overheard during a telephone call as he was instructed by Struble to lie to investigators if they asked about the source of the money.
Struble and two of his family members who accepted some of the kickback money pleaded guilty earlier this year to their roles in the scheme. He was sentenced to four years in prison Friday and ordered to pay $3.4 million in restitution.
Rivera requested a jury trial during a Friday court hearing in U.S. District Court in Virginia. The trial has not been scheduled.