PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A recently unsealed whistle-blower lawsuit claims a former civilian Navy employee from Virginia and a now-defunct Navy contractor engaged in a bribery and kickback scheme going back to at least 2004.
The lawsuit, first filed in a federal court in Georgia in 2006, predates by more than four years criminal charges brought by federal prosecutors in Rhode Island in 2011 that allege a similar scheme by some of the same people cost the government $10 million.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Defense would not comment on why the contractor and Navy employee were allowed to continue their alleged criminal conduct for years after authorities were first alerted to it.
The lawsuit says the allegations were reported in May 2006 to the Defense Department and the U.S. attorney for northern Georgia. Other filings say the government was deciding whether to intervene in 2007 but had not yet completed an investigation.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Defense said she could not comment on investigations, while the U.S. attorney’s office in Georgia referred questions to its counterpart office in Rhode Island. A spokesman in Rhode Island would not comment.
Both cases center on alleged wrongdoing by former civilian Navy employee Ralph Mariano and Anjan Dutta-Gupta, founder of the Navy contractor Advanced Solutions for Tomorrow, or ASFT, which had offices in Georgia and Rhode Island and has since gone out of business.
The criminal case and the whistle-blower suit say Mariano, who worked for the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, had power to add or refuse millions of dollars in payments to contractors and used that power to orchestrate a scheme in which he would approve payments to ASFT, which would then funnel some of the money back to him and others through shell corporations.
ASFT held $120 million in Navy contracts when the charges were first brought in February 2011. Mariano, of South Arlington, Va., remained in his job until 2011, according to court filings. He has pleaded not guilty in the criminal case. His lawyer, Robert Corrente, said his client had not yet been served by the lawsuit. He would not comment on the allegations contained in the lawsuit.
Dutta-Gupta and two others have pleaded guilty in federal court in Rhode Island in the criminal case. Dutta-Gupta admitted paying $8 million in bribes over more than a decade. His lawyer did not return a message seeking comment on the lawsuit.
Patrick Nagle, a former executive for ASFT, pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit bribery for signing off on false and inflated invoices that were submitted by subcontractors even though he knew the work had largely not been done. Another man, Russell Spencer, has admitted acting as a middleman for funneling kickbacks to Mariano through a company he owned. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery.
None of the three has been sentenced.
Mariano’s father, Ralph Mariano Jr., of North Providence, R.I., and his girlfriend, Mary O’Rourke, a former executive at ASFT, have pleaded not guilty to the federal criminal charges. The younger Mariano and O’Rourke are charged with counts including conspiracy, theft of government property and wire fraud. Mariano Jr., who is in his 80s, is accused of tax evasion.
The whistle-blower suit was first brought in May 2006 by Rekha and Karan Vasudeva, who say they were involved in setting up a Roswell, Ga., company that was used to issue fictitious invoices to ASFT and a company owned by Spencer. It makes a number of other allegations against other people and companies, including about bid-rigging in U.S. Army contracts. An Army spokesman said he could not comment on matters under investigation or on open lawsuits.
While the criminal case accuses Mariano and Dutta-Gupta of wrongdoing back to 1996 and makes similar allegations to the 2006 whistle-blower suit, many of the specific claims in the cases are different.
The whistle-blower lawsuit was later filed in federal court in Rhode Island and amended in 2012 to include additional details based on the criminal case, including adding Spencer and Nagle as defendants. Several other people and companies are also named. The Vasudevas and their lawyers would not comment about the lawsuit.
The 2006 complaint was made in the form of a qui tam lawsuit under the federal False Claims Act, which allows private citizens to sue on the government’s behalf. The action was sealed so that those who are named in it are not alerted to any investigation. It was unsealed by a federal judge in Providence in January at the request of prosecutors, who are required to alert defendants to evidence that exists before a criminal trial.
More Related Stories
- Bridge collapse: Part of "aging infrastructure"
- Mistrial in penalty phase of Arias case
- Amanda Bynes arrested after hurling bong from window
- Interstate 5 bridge collapses north of Seattle
- Mississippi could begin prosecuting women for miscarriages
- Teenage girl claims she was beaten up for looking like Taylor Swift
- UK Military: London attack victim was a "model soldier"
- Billionaire hedge funder: Babies, breast-feeding "kill" focus, keep women from succeeding
- "Bookless library" set to open in Texas
- 2 more arrested in London attacks
- Glenn Beck: CNN interview with atheist tornado survivor was a setup!
- Incoming BBC news director on journalism gender gap: "We can do better"
- Illegal construction, shoddy materials at fault in Bangladesh factory disaster
- Ahead of Obama's speech, U.S. acknowledges four American drone killings
- Must-see morning clip: Bill O'Reilly visits "The Daily Show"
- Lawsuit alleges anti-gay hiring practices at ExxonMobil
- Boy Scouts poised to vote, still greatly divided on gay youth
- House supporters of KXL received $56m from fossil fuel industry
- 80-year-old becomes oldest to climb Mount Everest
- Before FBI shooting man implicated self, Tsarnaev in triple murder
- Paul McCartney backs Pussy Riot
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11