Prosecutors said the $1.3 million federal government contracting scheme was a family affair.
Over five years, investigators claim a high-level General Services Administration official helped her husband submit more than 100 fake employment applications to federal agencies and doctored his résumé to try to get him hired by the government.
At one point, investigators contend, Helen “Renee” Ballard attempted to hire her husband for a GSA position that she oversaw as a contracting office director and tried to conceal their marriage by changing her home address in the agency’s online personnel system.
At another point in the years-long scheme, the husband, Robert “Steve” Ballard, was hired for $140,000 a year by a GSA contractor and became the person with the highest salary on the contract, according to a federal indictment.
Prosecutors said Renee Ballard, a former GSA contracting office director, and her husband, a former employee of the Arlington-based federal contractor, CACI, also used their positions to place Ballard’s brother, sister-in-law and father on a contract that Ballard supervised.
A federal grand jury indicted the Brandywine, Md., couple Tuesday on charges of conspiracy, wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and false statements. Attorneys for the Ballards were not immediately available Wednesday for comment.
A CACI spokesman did not reply to messages seeking comment Wednesday. Neither CACI nor any of its employees are charged in the case.
During her tenure as director of the agency’s Central Office Contracting Division from 2006 through 2011, Ballard, 51, and her husband, 55, “fraudulently induced” CACI to hire the relatives and the daughter of one of Ballard’s subordinates, prosecutors said.
Steve Ballard, who also worked for CACI, and the family members were assigned to an acquisition-support contract awarded by GSA that was supervised by Renee Ballard, prosecutors said. The GSA provides centralized procurement for the federal government, and is supposed to deliver the best value in real estate, acquisition and technology services.
In 2008, prosecutors said Renee Ballard emailed a CACI supervisor about hiring her brother, who was unemployed. “I really need him to start on this date,” she wrote, according to the indictment.
Ballard’s brother submitted “false and misleading” information about his prior salary and education, and lied about whether any of his relatives had worked for CACI, according to the court filing. From December 2008 through 2011, prosecutors said Ballard’s brother was paid about $247,000 from the GSA contract.
At least one of Renee Ballard’s relatives apparently expressed concern, according to the court filing. “This is nepotism” and a “no, no” that would violate government policy, her father reportedly told his daughter in a phone call, according to the indictment.
Even so, Renee Ballard’s father was hired in 2010 as a “finance consultant” and earned about $79,000 from the contract, despite having no experience as an acquisition analyst, negotiating or maintaining contracts, the court filing states.
When it came to CACI’s hiring Ballard’s husband, prosecutors said Renee Ballard concealed her role by falsely claiming to have recused herself from the contract.
Steve Ballard’s application misrepresented his education, experience and government contracting qualifications, according to the indictment. Prosecutors said the couple also forged professional certifications.
He was hired to join the CACI contract at an initial salary of $140,000, according to the indictment. Later that year, CACI paid Steve Ballard’s brother-in-law a $2,000 referral bonus related to his hiring.
In 2011, according to the court filing, Renee Ballard lied on her financial disclosure report, failing to report her husband’s employment with CACI.
GSA’s inspector general opened an investigation in 2011 in response to allegations of nepotism.
Prosecutors said Renee Ballard removed résumés related to the hiring of her relatives from the official GSA contract file. She is also accused of encouraging others to lie to investigators.
“All you have to do is say, ‘Renee didn’t have nothing to do with it; I didn’t have nothing to do,’ ” she told a subordinate, according to the court filing.
The family members, who are not named in the indictment, are considered un-indicted co-conspirators, according to a spokesman for the office of the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, Dana J. Boente.
Both Ballards face a mandatory sentence of two years in prison if convicted of aggravated identity theft and a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison if convicted of wire fraud.