Ex-security head in D.C.'s Chief Technology Office pleads guilty in bribe case

By Del Quentin Wilber
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, December 19, 2009

A former D.C. government manager admitted in federal court Friday that he accepted more than $500,000 in bribes and kickbacks as part of a long-running contracting scam.

Yusuf Acar, 41, of Northwest Washington pleaded guilty to bribery and faces at least nine years in prison under federal guidelines at his sentencing in March. As part of the plea deal, Acar agreed to forfeit more than $275,000 to the U.S. government.

Prosecutors said the scheme started in 2005, when Acar began accepting bribes from Sushil Bansal, chief executive of a District-based contracting firm, Integrated Technologies.

In exchange for the payments, Acar ensured that the D.C. government favored Bansal's company when awarding contracts, hired the Virginia man's "ghost employees" and overpaid for his firm's services, prosecutors said.

Bansal, 42, of Dunn Loring has been charged with money laundering and bribery and remains free on personal recognizance. Besides Acar, two former city workers and one of Bansal's employees have pleaded guilty in the probe.

Acar has been held at the D.C. jail since his arrest March 12, the day FBI agents raided city offices and carted away boxes of records and other evidence from the D.C. Office of the Chief Technology Officer.

The FBI began investigating Acar, the office's acting chief of security, after receiving a tip from a D.C. employee who had been approached to participate in the scheme. The employee agreed to cooperate with investigators and wore hidden recording equipment that documented the fraud, prosecutors have said.

In court papers, prosecutors wrote that the scam started when Acar began ensuring that Bansal's employees were approved to work as District contractors. By 2007, Acar was receiving kickbacks for hiring Bansal's "ghost" employees who did no work for the city. The next year, Acar accepted tens of thousands of dollars in bribes for buying computer software and hardware through Bansal's company, prosecutors wrote.

Prosecutors said most of the bribes were paid through companies linked to Acar or controlled by others in the conspiracy.

Bansal also "issued payments directly" to Acar's wife, Galen, including $70,000 in checks from December 2006 through March 2007, prosecutors wrote in court papers.

Galen Acar did no work for Bansal, and the payments "were structured in this fashion to conceal and disguise the true nature and purpose of the transaction and in an attempt to avoid suspicion," prosecutors wrote in court papers.

She has not been charged with any crimes and could not be reached for comment Friday.

By late last year, Acar told Bansal he no longer wanted electronic payments. During a four-month period ending in March, prosecutors said, Bansal gave Acar $95,000 in cash.

When police raided Acar's home, they found $64,000 in a safe and $4,722 in his pocket, prosecutors said.

Acar's attorney, Dani Jahn, a federal public defender and Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Hibarger declined to comment after the hearing.

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