Report Date: February 2021
Report Number: AUD-FM-IB-21-17
Report Date: November 2020
Report Highlight: lead_inspector_general_for_operation_freedoms_sentinel_dec_2020_overview.pdf
Public Affairs (202) 254-4100adrian.edwards Wed, 02/17/2021 - 10:46
For Immediate ReleaseWednesday, February 3, 2021 Download PDF (126.94 KB)
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – An Arlington businessman pleaded guilty today to making false statements to multiple federal agencies in order to fraudulently obtain multimillion-dollar government contracts, COVID-19 emergency relief loans, and undeserved military service benefits.
According to court documents, Robert S. Stewart, Jr., 35, was the owner and president of Federal Government Experts (FGE) LLC, an Arlington-based company that purported to provide various services to the U.S. government. In this capacity, Stewart made false statements to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in order to obtain lucrative contracts to provide COVID-19 personal protective equipment (PPE). In addition, Stewart fraudulently obtained loans under the federal Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program, and he also defrauded the VA by falsely claiming to be entitled to veteran’s benefits for serving in the U.S. Marine Corps when, in fact, he never served in the Marines.
“Stewart’s fraudulent conduct during a critical time in our Nation’s fight against COVID-19 undermined the government’s ability to provide much needed PPE to the community, including to the front-line health care workers serving our military veterans,” said Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “In addition, by fraudulently obtaining government-backed loans intended to be lifelines to keep businesses afloat, Stewart unlawfully took and misused resources devoted to help struggling Americans.”
As part of his PPE scheme, Stewart falsely stated to procurement officials from FEMA and the VA that he was in possession of large quantities of PPE, including N95 masks. Based on Stewart’s false statements, the VA and FEMA awarded FGE contracts valued at $35,000,000 and $3,510,000, respectively. The VA intended to use the PPE purchased from FGE to protect employees and patients at various Veterans Health Administration facilities, which serve the medical needs of over nine million veterans each year. FGE failed to supply any PPE to the VA and FEMA. The U.S. government suffered no financial loss because the contract called for payment upon delivery and inspection of the goods.
“Exploiting COVID-19 relief efforts for personal gain, to receive lucrative contracts with no intention of fulfilling them, is unconscionable,” said DHS Inspector General Joseph V. Cuffari. “I am proud of everyone at DHS OIG who worked on this case. I am also thankful to our law enforcement partners who helped us bring a swift end to this scheme.”
Stewart also applied for various loans on behalf of FGE under the federal Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program. These programs were designed to provide emergency financial assistance to the millions of people suffering the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The loan applications submitted by Stewart falsely overstated the number of FGE employees and the amount of FGE’s payroll, two factors that were important in determining loan eligibility and the proper amount of the loan. In addition, Stewart used some of the loan proceeds for personal expenditures rather than to pay employees or for other appropriate business expenses. The loss to the U.S. government from this fraud is approximately $261,500.
In a separate fraudulent scheme, Stewart, an Air Force veteran, submitted an application for benefits to the VA. The application was fraudulent in that Stewart falsely claimed that he also served in the U.S. Marine Corps. Stewart created fraudulent documents that stated he attained the rank of Corporal in the Marine Corps and was honorably discharged after receiving several awards and commendations, including the Rifle Expert Badge, Pistol Expert Badge, Meritorious Mast, National Defense Service Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, Southwest Asia Service Medal, Certificate of Appreciation, and the Kuwaiti Liberation Medal. Stewart, in fact, never served in the Marines. Based on his fraudulent application, he received excess benefits in the amount of $73,722.45.
“By falsely claiming to have served in the U.S. Marine Corps to unlawfully increase his veteran’s benefits, Stewart stole money dedicated to providing resources and services to American military veterans and their families. This was an affront to those who honorably served,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Parekh. “We thank our law enforcement partners for bringing Stewart to justice.”
Stewart pleaded guilty to making false statements, wire fraud, and theft of government funds and is scheduled to be sentenced on June 16, 2021. He faces a maximum penalty of 35 years in prison. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; James A. Dawson, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office Criminal Division; Joseph V. Cuffari, Inspector General for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS); and Michael J. Missal, Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, made the announcement after U.S. District Judge Rossie D. Alston, Jr. accepted the plea.
Assistant U.S. Attorney William Fitzpatrick is prosecuting the case.
A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:21-cr-5.
DHS Office of the Inspector General, www.oig.dhs.govCriminal Investigations
Public Affairs (202) 254-4100adrian.edwards Wed, 02/17/2021 - 09:35
For Immediate ReleaseTuesday, January 26, 2021 Download PDF (96.13 KB)
WASHINGTON – An indictment charging three defendants was unsealed in the District of Columbia today. The indictment charges Aws Muwafaq Abduljabbar, 42; Haitham Isa Saado Sad, 42; and Olesya Leonidovna Krasilova, 43, with conspiracy to steal U.S. government records and to defraud the United States, theft of U.S. government records, and conspiracy to launder money, all related to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP). The indictment also charges Sad and Krasilova with computer fraud and abuse. The announcement was made by Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Michael R. Sherwin, the Inspector General for the Department of Homeland Security, Dr. Joseph V. Cuffari, and the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) Assistant Director for Domestic Operations Ricardo Colón.
According to the indictment, Sad was employed in Amman, Jordan from 2007 to 2016 by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and Krasilova held a similar position at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, Russia. Part of their duties included processing applications for refugee resettlement in the United States through the USRAP. The indictment charges that, from approximately February 2016 until at least April 2019, the three defendants, led by Abduljabbar, conspired to steal U.S. government records related to hundreds of USRAP applications. The records contained sensitive, non-public information about refugee applicants, their family members, their employment and military history, their accounts of persecution or fear of persecution, the results of security checks, and internal assessments by U.S. officials regarding applications.
As outlined in the indictment, the theft of USRAP records creates a number of risks to public safety and national security while imposing significant costs on the U.S. government, its taxpayers, and otherwise legitimate refugee applicants negatively impacted by the scheme. Defendants Abduljabbar and Sad were previously arrested and remain held without bond. Defendant Krasilova remains at large.
“The charges unsealed today demonstrate the commitment of the U.S. Attorney’s Office to protect the integrity of critical government functions like the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, which exists to identify and admit qualified refugees for resettlement in the United States,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Michael R. Sherwin for the District of Columbia. “It is important to hold accountable those who would seek to defraud such programs, particularly when the crimes compromise our national security and public safety, when they impose such high costs on taxpayers, and when they negatively impact the prospects of qualified refugee applicants.”
“This indictment sends a strong message: the Diplomatic Security Service is committed to making sure that those who are alleged to have stolen U.S. government records related to refugee admissions face consequences for their criminal actions,” said DSS Assistant Director for Domestic Operations Ricardo Colón. “This case demonstrates the collaborative efforts of our law enforcement partners, and showcases the forensic and investigative capabilities of DSS.”
“Individuals like Ms. Krasilova and Mr. Sad are entrusted to protect the integrity of the U.S. immigration system and sensitive information vital to our national security interests,” said Department of Homeland Security Inspector General Dr. Joseph V. Cuffari. “The Office of Inspector General remains committed to aggressively investigating DHS employees who abuse their positions, betray the public trust, and conspire with persons such as Mr. Abduljabbar to defraud the United States.”
The charges in the indictment are merely allegations, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. The maximum penalty for conspiracy to commit an offense or defraud the United States is five years; the maximum penalty for theft of government records is 10 years; the maximum penalty for conspiracy to launder money is 20 years; and the maximum penalty for the charged computer fraud and abuse is five years. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes. If convicted of any offense, a defendant’s sentence will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
This case is being investigated jointly by the DHS Office of Inspector General and the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Luke M. Jones and Erik M. Kenerson of the National Security Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs assisted.
DHS Office of the Inspector General, www.oig.dhs.govCriminal Investigations