Contractor gets 20 months and must repay $844,000 in D.C. technology office scam

By Spencer S. Hsu
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, August 7, 2010

The chief executive of a District-based contracting firm was sentenced to 20 months in prison and ordered to repay $844,000 for his part in a bribery and kickback scheme that rocked the city's technology office last year and raised doubts about administrative oversight.

U.S. District Judge Henry H. Kennedy of the District sentenced Sushil K. Bansal, 42, of Dunn Loring to two 20-month terms to be served concurrently at a minimum-security federal facility in Pennsylvania. Bansal pleaded guilty in April to one count each of bribery and money laundering.

"It is sad for you and for your family," Kennedy said. "It is also sad for all of your employees and the District of Columbia, and here I speak for the citizens of the District of Columbia."

Kennedy approved the government's full request for restitution but reduced its preferred prison sentence of 38 months.

"I am sorry to be standing here," Bansal said, apologizing for what he called "such disgraceful acts" and pleading for leniency on behalf of his wife and 7- and 11-year-old daughters.

Prosecutors agreed to support a shorter prison sentence for Bansal, citing his quick and complete cooperation once arrests were made last year in March. Besides Bansal, two low-ranking District workers have pleaded guilty and received probation for their roles in the scam.

Two senior officials, Yusuf Acar, then acting head security officer for the D.C. Office of the Chief Technology Officer, and a colleague, Farrukh Awan, have pleaded guilty and await sentencing next week.

Bansal, a former District employee and Howard University graduate, admitted paying $706,000 in bribes and pocketing another $180,000 in a scheme in which Acar shared confidential government contracting information. Both men overcharged District taxpayers for "ghost workers" or more products and costlier services than were actually delivered, according to court documents. The scheme lasted from September 2005 to March 2009.

Attorneys for Bansal had argued for reducing the restitution. They claimed that Bansal was extorted by Acar and that the District failed to pay him $900,000 for legitimate work provided by his companies, Advanced Integrated Technologies and Innovative IT Solutions.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas J. Hibarger countered, citing the example of an unnamed D.C. government official who, instead of going along with the scheme, became a cooperating witness after being approached by Acar.

"He [Bansal] could have said no. He could have said 'Let me get back to you' and gone to the FBI," Hibarger said. "Instead, it escalated, and he was happy to share proceeds of his crime."

In the wake of the scandal, the administration of Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) last year placed four employees on administrative leave, fired 23 consultants from firms linked to the scam and initiated audits. But D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles advised city officials not to testify to a D.C. Council panel investigating the crimes.

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