Ex-VRE employee Kevin Jannell pleads guilty in kickback scheme

September 27, 2012

A former Virginia Railway Express employee admitted Thursday in federal court that he took more than $200,000 in bribes over nearly a decade from a subcontractor hired to perform maintenance at stations, federal authorities said.

Kevin W. Jannell, 49, a former VRE facilities manager, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Alexandria to “bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds,” according to court records. He admitted to taking regular payments that totaled more than $200,000 but less than $400,000.

A federal inquiry led by the FBI and Department of Transportation continues, said Peter Carr, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Alexandria. In August, The Washington Post reported that there was an investigation into the kickback scheme.

From 2003 through March 2012, Jannell accepted monthly payments of up to $4,000 from someone associated with a subcontractor identified only as “Company A,” prosecutors said in court papers. In return, he gave the company positive evaluations and spoke with the primary maintenance contractor’s executives to help ensure that the company was retained as a subcontractor, court documents say.

One example of Jannell’s activities cited by federal prosecutors was an August 2004 internal evaluation of the subcontractor’s work.

The company “performed 100% of the work scope for the past three years and has done a fantastic job,” Jannell wrote in the evaluation, according to court filings.

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

Roeber said Thursday that the maintenance work was completed. The primary maintenance company is still under contract but VRE has asked it not to hire the subcontractor involved in the case, Roeber said.

He said that Jannell has “admitted to his own personal wrongdoing” but that no public dollars were misused.

Prosecutors said in court papers that Jannell conspired with someone, identified only as “Person A” from the subcontractor. They said that Jannell tried to hide the scheme by having the bribes sent to a company he had formed.

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 Jannell had set up with his wife.

Jannell’s attorney, federal public defender Whitney Minter, declined to comment.

U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema accepted Jannell’s plea. He is scheduled to be sentenced on the bribery charge Dec. 21 and faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

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