Station Managers Submitted Fraudulent and Inflated Invoices for Landscaping and Cleaning Services in Exchange for Bribe Payments
Baltimore, Maryland – Former U.S. Postal Service Station Manager Richard Lewis Wright, III, age 47, of Baltimore, pleaded guilty today to bribery in connection with a scheme to obtain U.S. Postal Service contracts in exchange for bribe payments.
On August 29, 2014, U.S. District Judge Ellen L. Hollander sentenced former USPS Station Manager Kimberly A. Parnell, age 43 and contractor Shane Anderson, age 37, both of Baltimore, to 20 months and 15 months in prison, respectively, each followed by three years of supervised release, for bribery in the same scheme.
The plea and sentences were announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Paul Bowman of the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General; and Special Agent in Charge Stephen E. Vogt of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
According to their plea agreements, Wright was the USPS Station Manager of the Waverly Station in Baltimore, Maryland, and Parnell was the USPS Station Manager of the Pikesville Station in Pikesville, Maryland. As part of their official duties as a USPS Station Manager, Wright and Parnell had the authority to contract for landscaping, snow removal, and certain cleaning services at the Post Offices they managed, and to submit invoices for those services to USPS for payment.
Beginning in 2007 for Wright and 2010 for Parnell, and continuing until July 2013, Wright and Parnell admitted that they created, approved and submitted false and inflated invoices for maintenance work allegedly performed at their Post Offices and then split the proceeds with the providers of the services, including Shane Anderson and others.
According to their plea agreements, Wright and Parnell initially accepted bribes from co-conspirator G.M., who owned a landscaping company. In July 2013, after becoming increasingly frustrated with G.M’s slow payment of bribes to Wright and Parnell, Parnell recruited Shane Anderson, who operated a landscaping company in Baltimore, called Youthful Minds Lawn Care and whom she believed would make bribe payments in exchange for USPS contracts, to participate in the scheme. Thereafter, Wright, Parnell and Anderson agreed that Wright and Parnell would submit false and inflated invoices from Youthful Minds Lawn Care for landscaping services in exchange for a percentage of the proceeds paid to Youthful Minds by the USPS.
Beginning in August 2010, Wright also began soliciting and receiving bribes from Ladeena Sketers-Anderson, who operated Keep U Clean cleaning service. Sketers-Anderson received USPS payments, approved by Wright for services allegedly provided at Wright’s Post Office, and deposited the checks into her account. Sketers-Anderson then issued checks to a cleaning company owned by Wright, which Wright endorsed and cashed.
In all, Wright submitted a total of $591,791 worth of invoices in exchange for bribe payments and Parnell submitted a total of $50,470 worth of invoices in exchange for bribe payments.
Richard Wright faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison. As part of his plea agreement, Wright will be required to pay restitution in the full amount of the loss, which will be determined by the Court. U.S. District Judge Ellen L. Hollander has scheduled Wright’s sentencing for February 6, 2015, at 10:00 a.m.
Ladena D. Sketers-Anderson, age 48, of Randallstown, Maryland, previously pleaded guilty to her role in the scheme and is scheduled to be sentenced on September 12, 2014, at 11:00 a.m.
The National Procurement Fraud Task Force was formed in October 2006 to promote the early detection, identification, prevention and prosecution of procurement fraud associated with the increase in government contracting activity for national security and other government programs. The Procurement Fraud Task Force includes the United States Attorneys’ Offices, the FBI, the U.S. Inspectors General community and a number of other federal law enforcement agencies. This case, as well as other cases brought by members of the Task Force, demonstrates the Department of Justice’s commitment to helping ensure the integrity of the government procurement process.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the USPS-Office of Inspector General and FBI for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorney Leo J. Wise, who is prosecuting the case.
Detailed allegations in the white-collar bribery case read similarly to many of the street crime cases that come through Baltimore’s federal courthouse, with Wright demanding payment from co-conspirators, discussing drug deals, and chambering a round in a handgun as someone approached his house.