OSI investigation leads to conviction in contract fraud case|
by James C. Dillard
Office of Special Investigations Public Affairs
2/7/2012 - MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. (AFNS) -- A recent investigation by the Air Force Office of Special Investigations resulted in a guilty plea by a man suspected of contract fraud.
Charles R. Priestley, 48, was sentenced for making a false, fictitious and fraudulent claim to the United States Air Force.
The United States District Court in East St. Louis, Mo., presided over the plea and sentenced Priestley to serve five years of probation and to pay restitution of $300,000 to the U.S. Transportation Command, which is based at Scott Air Force Base, Ill. He was also ordered to pay $4,000 in fines.
"The outcome and judgment in this case are a testament to the accomplishments achieved with interagency cooperation," said Special Agent Nina Leggett, who is with OSI Detachment 301 at Scott AFB. "The outstanding working relationship between OSI, USTRANSCOM, and the Assistant United States Attorney office for Southern Illinois was essential in achieving an outstanding victory for the Air Force and speaks volumes for the efforts being put forth to combat contract fraud."
Priestley operated Louisiana-based Hummingbird Aviation. He entered into a contract with USTRANSCOM to provide helicopter service in Afghanistan, effective Oct. 1, 2007. The contract provided that the U.S. would pay Hummingbird for the services of each helicopter at $298,790 per month. On Dec. 12, 2007, Hummingbird sent a payroll summary to USTRANSCOM that fraudulently requested reimbursement for the aircraft lease for Oct. 1 through Nov. 30, 2007, amounting to $300,000.
Protecting Department of Defense dollars, regardless of the amount, is a critical part of what OSI does to help ensure the Air Force can meet its mission requirements, officials said.
"The agents assigned to this case took an aggressive yet patient approach, knowing up front this investigation would take time and require coordination at many levels," said Special Agent Mark Ferrero, the Det. 301 commander. "The results of this case are yet another example of the hard work and dedication portrayed by the agents investigating this case, and the work being done by agents throughout this command."
At his plea, Priestly admitted that the claim for reimbursement was false in that he had back-dated a contract with a third-party provider of helicopters, which was provided to USTRANSCOM for payment for expenses not actually incurred. He admitted this claim resulted in the fraudulent payment of $300,000 by USTRANSCOM.
"Putting a stop to fraudulent actions against the Air Force leads to a feeling of accomplishment," said Special Agent Jason Rosalis, who works with Det. 301. "To see all of your hard work lead to a felony conviction and an award of restitution to the government really lets you see how your efforts have paid off."
(Parts of a Department of Justice Press release were used in this article.)