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Government Contracts Monitor

Short Take: Too Much Knowledge Can Be a Disadvantage: Fraudulent Receipt of Confidential Government Information

November 4, 2014

By: Lindsay Simmons

A 54-year old Virginia executive, Mark Farmer, was indicted in October for allegedly providing things of value to the former director of two Ohio Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Centers.  The alleged quid pro quo was that, in exchange for these items of value, the VA director provided confidential information to Farmer about various VA construction projects.  The charges in the indictment include conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud, theft of government property, embezzlement and theft. U.S. Attorney's Office Press Release 10/20/14.

Farmer was employed by a contractor that performed work for the VA, identified in the indictment as “Business 75.”  Farmer and Business 75 “received VA records and things of value, including non-public information concerning the VA and streamlined access to public information concerning the VA.”  According to the indictment, this was done to give Farmer and Business 75 an advantage over other companies in the award and performance of VA contracts.

Montague, the former director of the Dayton and Cleveland VA Medical Centers, pleaded guilty earlier this year to 64 counts in connection with his role in the conspiracy. He is awaiting sentencing.

“Bribing a public official to obtain internal government documents and information for a competitive business advantage is illegal,” said Stephen D. Anthony, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Cleveland Office.

“Contractors and employees conspiring to defraud the VA is particularly intolerable as the VA struggles to effectively serve our nation's veterans,” said Gavin McClaren, U.S. VA OIG, Resident Agent in Charge, Cleveland.

Be careful what you ask for and how you ask for it.  Sometimes too much knowledge can put you in the hot seat.

Lindsay Simmons is the attorney responsible for the contents of this article.
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