As the Reality Winner case was unfolding this week, Fort Gordon found itself in a second controversy.
A grand jury on Wednesday indicted Army Col. Anthony Tyrone Roper and his wife, Audra, along with an officer of a large defense contracting company, Dwayne Oswald Fulton. They are accused of taking part in a bribery scheme aimed at obtaining over $20 million in Army and private company contracts.
The scheme lasted almost a decade, the Justice Department said.
Here's how the scheme worked, according to federal prosecutors: As another Army colonel was preparing to retire in 2008, he established a company called Communications, Research, Engineering and Consultants Group (CREC Group), with the aim of obtaining U.S. Army contracts. To win those contracts, the retired colonel paid bribes -- including cash and no-show jobs -- to public officials, including Col. Roper, court documents allege.
The payments allegedly were funneled through Quadar Group, a company owned by Roper's wife.
Fulton aided in the bribery scheme by providing fraudulent information to the U.S. Army, other government agencies and private companies, according to the allegations. And in an effort to obstruct an investigation into the bribery payments to Col. Roper, Fulton used a shell company OzTEK Research, to generate false invoices, the indictment charges.
From 2008 through at least 2016, the indictment says, the group continued their conspiracy to defraud the U.S. Army and Army contractors. As part of their conspiracy, the defendants would fraudulently arrange for and use employees of other government contracting companies to perform the work awarded to CREC Group.
The investigation apparently began in 2015, news reports indicate. The indictment doesn't reveal how the U.S. Army Criminal Investigations Division and Department of Defense Criminal Investigative Service caught on to the scheme.
Payments to Anthony Tyrone Roper allegedly included a $25,000 bribe on Dec. 20, 2012; $20,000 on Dec. 19, 2013; and $15,000 on Dec. 24, 2014. Yet the indictment said he filed a financial disclosure report that stated he had not received any income of gifts from prohibited sources.
In addition to the conspiracy charge, Audra Roper is charged with lying to investigators by saying she had never heard of Quadar Group and was not aware that her husband had received payments from CREC Group.
Col. Roper faces a maximum of 85 years in prison and a $1.75 million fine, the Justice Department said. His wife faces a maximum of 25 years and a $750,000 fine; Fulton, 20 years and a $500,000 fine.
Court documents don't reveal the name of the retired colonel accused of paying the bribes.
Some online websites show that CREC Group received tens of millions of dollars of Department of Defense contracts. The list of contracts can be seen here: http://government-contracts.insidegov.com/d/d/Communications%2C-Research%2C-Engineering%2C-And-Consultant-Group%2C-Llc
Read more on the issue of Department of Defense contract fraud: http://www.dodig.mil/m/pubs/info.cfm
Catch up on the Reality Winner scandal involving a leak of classified information: http://www.myajc.com/news/breaking-news/feds-nsa-leak-suspect-wrote-wanting-burn-the-white-house-down/XycmiJvIwzk6FJ01JjIigP/