Two sentenced in kickback scheme at DC CIO's office

Two former employees receive prison sentences for steering work to a Washington IT firm

Two former employees of the District of Columbia's Office of Chief Technology Officer have been sentenced to prison terms for their roles in a kickback scheme they participated in there, the U.S. Department of Justice said.

Yusuf Acar, the former acting chief security officer in the CTO's office, was sentenced Friday to 27 months in prison in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, and Farrukh Awan, a former contract employee there, was sentenced to 14 months in prison on the same day.

The two employees, in earlier guilty pleas, said they steered work to Advanced Integrated Technologies, a Washington, D.C., IT services and outsourcing firm where Sushil Bansal served as CEO.

Acar, in his guilty plea, said he accepted bribes from Bansal on at least 59 occasions between September 2005 and March 2009, the DOJ said in a press release. Bansal paid Acar nearly US$559,000 in bribes, the DOJ said. Acar pleaded guilty in December to charges of bribery and engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity.

Judge Henry Kennedy Jr. ordered Acar, 41, of Washington, to pay nearly $559,000 in restitution. Acar has been held in prison without bond since March 2009, when he was arrested.

Awan, in his guilty plea, said he worked with Acar and Bansal to steer business to Advanced Integrated Technologies between September 2005 and January 2007, the DOJ said. Awan and Acar both sat on panels responsible for assessing candidates for certain positions at the CTO's office, and they received kickbacks for each Advanced Integrated Technologies employee placed in the office, the DOJ said.

Kennedy ordered Awan, 38, of South Riding, Virginia, to pay nearly $157,000 in restitution. Awan pleaded guilty in November to conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

"The residents of the District of Columbia deserve an ethical government with ethical employees, and have the right to know that their money is being spent honestly and for the public good," Ronald Machen Jr., U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, said in a statement. "The prison sentence in [Acar's] case should send a strong message to any public official who may be tempted to accept a bribe or kickback that we will not tolerate corruption."

Bansal pleaded guilty in the case earlier this year, and he was sentenced Aug. 6 to 20 months in prison. Kennedy ordered Bansal and his company to pay nearly $845,000 in restitution to the District of Columbia government.

The case made headlines when the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation raided the CTO's office in March 2009, because the raid came about a week after the previous CTO, Vivek Kundra, was appointed by U.S. President Barack Obama to be CIO for the U.S. government.

Kundra served as CTO for the District of Columbia from March 2007 to March 2009, and the kickbacks scheme predated his arrival. His office awarded some contracts to Bansal's company during his time there, but the DOJ's investigation did not target him.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantusG. Grant's e-mail address is grant_gross@idg.com.

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Tags governmentBarack ObamaU.S. Department of JusticeCriminalGovernment use of ITVivek KundraAdvanced Integrated Technologies

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