Executives Caught in FBI Sting Represent Companies with Government Contracts
by Gary Therkildsen*
Jan 22, 2010
On Tuesday, when the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) arrested 22 executives from the military and police equipment industry on violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), they nabbed a number of individuals that work for companies that contract with the government. Of the 16 companies represented, at least half received federal dollars for products or services during fiscal year 2009, and most of them have had a relationship with the government stretching back several years.
Below is a list of those arrested individuals that work for companies that contract with the government. Through the magic of USASpending.gov, I've included how many contracts the company has recently received and the dollar value associated with those contracts. Voila:
- Daniel Alvirez, president of Als Technologies in Bull Shoals, AR, which, since 2001, has won 830 contracts worth over $5.2 million
- Helmie Ashiblie, founder and vice president of i-SHOT, Inc. in Woodbridge, VA, which, since 2005, has won 17 contracts worth over $1.3 million
- R. Patrick Caldwell, chief executive officer of Protective Products International in Sunrise, FL, which, since 2000, has won 358 contracts worth over $175 million
- Yochi Cohen, chief executive officer of Highcom Security in San Francisco, CA, which, since 2002, has won 57 contracts worth over $3.8 million
- Amaro Goncalves, vice president of Smith & Wesson in Springfield, MA, which, since 2002, has won 133 contracts worth over $24 million
- John and Jeana Mushriqui, director and manager, respectively, of Mushriqui Consulting in Upper Darby, PA, which, since 2005, has won 11 contracts worth over $466,000
- Michael Sacks and Wayne Weisler, co-chief executive officers of ArmorSheild USA in Stearns, KY, which, since 2006, has won six contracts worth over $139,000
- John Benson Wier III, president of SRT Supply in St. Petersburg, FL, which, since 2000, has won 99 contracts worth over $4.1 million
The contracts add up to over $200 million spent over the course of a decade for items like guns, ammunition, and body armor, from both large and small firms, some of which are quite well known.
As the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) notes on their blog, none of these companies has ever appeared in their Federal Contractor Misconduct Database, which POGO runs to keep track of transgressions by companies that contract with the government. And as of right now, the government has not implicated any of these companies in wrongdoing. But, the FBI investigation is ongoing and, as Professor Mike Koehler of Butler University states, "past FCPA enforcement actions demonstrate [that] corporate enforcement actions or investigations often, but not always, precede or follow individual enforcement actions."
The question is if these companies were somehow involved in a scheme to bribe a fictitious African minister of defense, should that have some bearing on whether they continue to receive taxpayer dollars through government contracts. I think most taxpayers would say yes. But, even if the government eventually charges these companies with some wrongdoing associated with this case, a federal contracting officer (CO) would likely never see this information in the future when attempting to make an award decision.
And that's because, along with being a fractured, siloed mess, the government's contractor performance databases don't reveal illicit behavior unless a company has admitted to it or accepted fault. This rarely happens, as most companies settle civil, criminal and administrative misconduct cases on the condition that they are absolved of any wrongdoing.
I'm not arguing that a company shouldn't receive a contract simply because it has broken the law in the past, but I believe a contracting officer should see all of a company's past so that the CO may make the most informed decision possible when awarding a contract. The wise spending of taxpayer dollars demands nothing less.
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