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Tuesday, May 21, 2024 | Back issues
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Contractors in Bribe Case Not Entitled to Gov Docs

RICHMOND, Va. (CN) - Four defense contractors accused of bribing a high-ranking National Guard official are not entitled a bill of particulars laying out the details of the government's case, a federal judge ruled.

The four contractors Ross Bernard Deblois Sr., Edward Stuart Livingston III, Ronald Joseph Tipa and Thomas Edward Taylor are the CEO and board members of Military Personnel Services Corporation, a defense firm based in Falls Church, Va.

They were indicted in July 2015 on charges of bribing a public official, conspiracy to commit honest services fraud, honest services wire fraud.

According to federal prosecutors, the four men, all retired National Guard officers, bribed then-active duty Col. Robert Porter in exchange for lucrative contracts from which Porter would get a cut.

At the time, Porter was on the verge of retiring himself. In carrying out the scheme, prosecutors said, Porter would direct contracts to Military Personnel Services, which he was planning for join as soon as he retired. His cut of the proceeded would then be paid out, disguised as incentive payments and bonuses.

In July 2014, Porter allegedly appeared in uniform at a company board meeting, where he announced Military Personnel's award of at least three marketing contracts valued at approximately $5.5 million.

Following the announcement, Porter received three payments of at least $10,000 from the company, court records say.

Both Porter and John Jones, another board member of the company, previously pleaded guilty to the bribery charges in federal court.

The four remaining defendants filed a motion to secure the government's lengthy bill of particulars related the case.

But in a Feb 23 ruling, U.S. District Judge Liam O'Grady said while the volume of discovery can be, and is commonly, a reason to grant a bill of particulars, "it must also be the case that the volume 'obfuscates the allegedly unlawful conduct and unfairly inhibits the defendant's preparation for trial.'"

"First, the indictment returned by the grand jury is far from bare bones or generalized," O'Grady said in his ruling.

"It contains a pages-long description, buttressed by numerous specific factual allegations, of the alleged unlawful conduct."

The contractors also asked the government to clarify several nonspecific references to dates and details in the indictment, but according to O'Grady, that information is best reserved for post-trial wrap up.

"Defendants contend 'at least' implies that there are more than three contracts and that their value may exceed $5.5 million," the judge wrote.

"The government responds that Defendants 'know exactly what the contracts are,' and that 'at least' is necessary with respect to the monetary value because 'like many contracts, these contracts had option years for extensions which would make their overall value greater to MPSC,'" O'Grady wrote.

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