Former National Guard member pleads guilty to double-billing the DoD

Jan. 10 (UPI) — A former civilian member of National Guard in Oregon has pleaded guilty to defrauding the government for equipment repairs his shop never made.

As part of a plea deal reached with the U.S. Attorney, Dominic Caputo, 48, of Clackamas County, Ore., has agreed to pay $2.6 million in restitution to the Department of Defense for making false statements as a civilian program manager for the Oregon National Guard Oregon Sustainment Maintenance Site.

From 2010 to 2014, Caputo served as a civilian program manager for the OSMS Power Division, which refurbishes out-of-service electronic equipment owned by the U.S. Department of Defense. The work site is situated at Camp Withycombe in Clackamas County, a suburban county in the Portland metropolitan area.

He was responsible for certifying completed work and submitting claims to the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command under the National Maintenance and RESET programs.

“In the event of an emergency or declaration of war, OSMS deploys refurbished equipment to other military bases or installations. During the time alleged in the Indictment and until 2015, OSMS was the only maintenance site in the United States capable of repairing and rebuilding certain engines in support of the federal military supply system,” said a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Oregon.

According to prosecutors, in 2014, Caputo billed CECOM more than $675,000 for repair and rebuilding of John Deere diesel engines — work that had been performed, and billed, in prior fiscal years.

He went so far as to direct employees to remove and replace original serial numbers and identifying engine plates to conceal the duplicate billing.

Caputo was indicted in 2018, after being terminated from his job in 2014, when the fraud was uncovered.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s office in Oregon declined to answer questions about how the fraud was revealed.

Caputo will face a maximum sentence of five years in prison, a $100,000 fine and three years of supervised release, in addition to $2.6 million in restitution to CECOM.

In a plea petition, Caputo stated that his motive was to protect the program and the jobs of his employees, and that he did not personally benefit from the fraud. He wrote that he believed at the time his crew could make up the shortage in production and supply the quantity of paid-for engines.

This week, the L.A. Times reported that the Department of Defense is frequently duped by contractors, citing a Government Accountability Office study on DoD contractors.

That report focused on private contractors’ use of shell companies, but included an examination of billing for work not performed.

“For example, in four court cases we examined, multiple DOD subcontractors were actually shell companies that did not have the inventory they purported to ultimately provide to the government or perform the work indicated in the contract requirements,” the report said. “According to documents filed in U.S. district court, some of these subcontractors hired other companies to perform work, but created additional invoices that added costs for work the subcontractors did not perform. These additional costs were then passed on to DOD.”

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