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Posted at 03:33 PM ET, 09/27/2012

VRE employee Kevin Jannell pleads guilty to kickback scheme

A Virginia Railway Express employee pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court to allowing a company to pay him more than $200,000 over nearly a decade in order to ensure a sub-contractor was retained by the rail agency, according to court documents and a Department of Justice spokesman.

Kevin Jannell, 49, of Fredericksburg, the former facilities manager at VRE, plead guilty to the charge of “bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds,” according to a Department of Justice news release. The total amount was less than $400,000, court documents say.

Janell waived his right for a grand jury to decide if the charge should go forward, said Peter Carr, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office.

From 2003 through March 2012, Jannell conspired for a person from a company identified only as “Company A” to make monthly deposits of around $4,000, according to court documents. He gave the company positive internal evaluations and spoke with the primary maintenance contractor’s executives to help ensure the company was retained as a sub-contractor.

The Washington Post reported the existence of the FBI’s investigation into the kickback scheme in August.

Mark Roeber, a VRE spokesman, has said that the arrangement under scrutiny involved a subcontractor who was hired as part of a five-year, $2.6 million contract for landscaping, trash removal and other maintenance work.

A copy of a subcontractor’s invoice obtained by The Post indicated that a $3,000 payment for “consulting services” was paid to a company owned by the former employee.That’s the scheme that prosecutors outlined in court documents. Jannell sought to keep the payments secret by having them deposited into a shell company’s account.

Jannell’s attorney, federal public defender Whitney Minter, couldn’t be reached for comment immediately Thursday.

The investigation was lead by James W. McJunkin, of the FBI Washington Field Office and Kathryn Jones, of the Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General, according to a news release.

Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, prosecuted the case. United States District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema accepted Jannell’s plea.

Jannell is scheduled to be sentenced on the charge Dec. 21. He faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

By  |  03:33 PM ET, 09/27/2012

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