The Washington Post

Bribery scheme at VRE leads to 2-year prison term

Passengers board the Virginia Railway Express at L’Enfant Plaza during afternoon rush hour. (Gerald Martineau)

A former Virginia Railway Express employee was sentenced to two years in prison Friday for taking bribes in order to ensure that a rail subcontractor was retained, officials said.

Former facilities manager Kevin W. Jannell, 49, of Fredericksburg had pleaded guilty to orchestrating a kickback scheme under which he received thousands in payments from 2003 through March 2012, according to court documents.

He was ordered to repay $357,000 and complete 100 hours of community service, prosecutors said.

“Bribes should never be just another cost of doing business with the government,” U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride said in a statement. “Those who corrupt the contracting process will spend years in prison paying for their crimes.”

Jannell conspired to have a person from a company identified in court documents only as “Company A” make monthly deposits of about $4,000. He gave the company positive internal evaluations and spoke with the primary maintenance contractor’s executives to help ensure that the company was retained as a subcontractor.

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-a-year contract for landscaping, trash removal and other maintenance work.

The primary contractor, NV Enterprises of Reston, was offered a six-month extension for $1.6 million in October because VRE’s leaders were worried about switching contractors just before winter was to start. VRE officials plan to put the contract out for bidding at the end of the six-month extension, Roeber said.

NV Enterprises has not been accused of any wrongdoing, and company officials have assured VRE that they did not know about the scheme. They have also replaced the subcontractor.

A copy of a subcontractor’s invoice obtained by The Washington Post indicates that a $3,000 payment for “consulting services” was given to a company owned by the former employee. That was the scheme 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, declined to comment Friday.

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