By Maria Glod
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
An Army officer and two other men were indicted in Maryland federal court Monday on charges that they stole $4 million by faking government contracts.
Army Warrant Officer Dejuan A. Fountain, 38, of Douglasville, Ga., who authorities said worked in communications security, allegedly helped orchestrate the fraud by misidentifying himself as a financial officer for the Army. Federal officials allege that Fountain worked with Rafael C. Simmons, 30, of Laurel and Rodney A. Mathis, 33, of Stafford, both civilians, to carry out the scheme.
According to an indictment handed up in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt, the three men carried out a complex, years-long conspiracy during which they persuaded two private companies, including Bethesda-based Federal National Payables, to handle the finances for fictitious multimillion-dollar government contracts. Typically, such financing companies agree to make advance payments to contractors who need the cash to start and carry out jobs, with the agreement that they will get a cut when the government ultimately pays for the work.
The companies sent about $4 million to bank accounts controlled by the defendants from November 2007 through July, the duration of the alleged scam, according to the indictment. Authorities said some cash, which appeared to be payments from the government, was returned to the companies to make it appear that the contracts were legitimate and to keep the scam alive.
"This indictment alleges that an Army warrant officer conspired with two other men to defraud finance companies by falsely representing that services had been provided to the government," U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said in a statement. "We seek to hold the perpetrators accountable and forfeit the stolen money so that it can be returned to the victims."
Authorities allege that the men concocted the fake contracts and convinced the finance companies that the contracts were real. Mathis, the indictment alleges, posed as an Army contracting officer and even used an Army e-mail address. Simmons "held himself out" as a director of a consulting company that supplied telecommunications services to the government. Simmons also was associated with other companies involved in contracting.
Fountain, the indictment alleges, posed as a financial officer whose responsibilities included handling payments to the finance companies on behalf of the U.S. government.
The three men each are charged with seven counts of wire fraud. Simmons also is charged with mail fraud. The names of the defense attorneys were not immediately available.