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Ex-USDA official sentenced after taking PGA Tour event tickets and other bribes in contracting scheme

A former USDA official was sentenced to 180 days of home detention in a bribery scheme that sent $19 million in goverment contracts to a Virginia company.
A former USDA official was sentenced to 180 days of home detention in a bribery scheme that sent $19 million in goverment contracts to a Virginia company. (iStock)
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A former employee of the U.S. Department of Agriculture was sentenced Tuesday to 180 days of home detention after admitting he accepted bribes such as PGA Tour event tickets, expensive meals and concierge medical services in exchange for preferential treatment in the agency’s contracting process.

Richard Holman, 69, of Fairfax County, will also pay a $110,000 fine for the multiyear scheme that involved more than $19 million in USDA contracts. At the time of the offense, Holman was the chief of the physical security division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Coordination.

“Mr. Holman accepted responsibility for his actions and we respect the sentence issued by the court today,” his attorney David Benowitz said.

Holman pleaded guilty in May to one count of bribery.

Between July 2013 and December 2015, according to court records, Holman and other USDA officials were given items such as Corvette wheels, concert tickets, fees for concierge medical services, and prescription drugs and other items from a security firm called Communications Resources and its former vice president and chief operating officer Eric Schneider, according to prosecutors with the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington. In return, Holman and other officials worked behind the scenes and “steered contracts to CRI in a variety of ways,” according to prosecutors.

Benowitz in court records said the scheme was a “terrible lapse in judgment” for a man who had otherwise dedicated his life to service, including a stint as an officer in the U.S. Army.

In court documents, prosecutors cast the incident as a violation of the public’s trust and had requested that Holman serve time in prison for at least a year.

Schneider, 51, pleaded guilty in November to conspiracy and obstruction for his role. His sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 4. His attorney declined to comment Tuesday.

Communications Resources did not immediately respond to requests for comment late Tuesday afternoon.

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