Three Georgia residents sentenced for bribery scheme

Friday morning, the Department of Justice released information about the sentencing of three Georgia residents for their roles in a bribery scheme.

A former employee at the Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany (MCLB-Albany) and two local businessmen were sentenced today for their roles in a bribery scheme related to the award of contracts for machine products that resulted in approximately $907,000 in fraudulent overcharges to the U.S. Marines, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department TMs Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Michael J. Moore of the Middle District of Georgia.

Michelle Rodriguez, 32; Thomas J. Cole, 43; and Fredrick W. Simon, 55, all of Albany, Ga., were sentenced today by U.S. District Judge W. Louis Sands in the Middle District of Georgia. Rodriguez was sentenced to 70 months in prison and ordered to pay $161,000 in restitution; Cole was sentenced to 46 months in prison and ordered to pay $209,000 in restitution; and Simon was sentenced to 32 months in prison and ordered to pay $74,500 in restitution. Each is also subject to a $907,000 forfeiture order and three years of supervised release.

During her guilty plea in February 2013, Rodriguez, a supply technician in the Maintenance Center Albany (MCA), admitted to participating in a scheme to award contracts for machine products to Company A and Company B, companies operated by Cole and Simon. Cole and Simon pleaded guilty to bribery charges related to the same scheme in January 2013 and cooperated with the government TMs criminal investigation. The MCA is responsible for rebuilding and repairing ground combat and combat support equipment, much of which has been utilized in military missions in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as other parts of the world. To accomplish the scheme, Rodriguez would transmit bid solicitations to Simon via facsimile or email, and then usually follow that communication with a text message specifying how much Company A should bid. Simon, on Company A TMs behalf, and with Cole TMs knowledge, bid the amount specified by Rodriguez on each order, which was normally in excess of fair market value. Rodriguez was then paid $75 in cash for each order awarded to Simon and Cole during the previous week. According to court records, during the relevant period Rodriguez awarded Cole and Simon TMs companies nearly 1,300 machine product orders, all of which were in exchange for bribes paid to Rodriguez.

Rodriguez further admitted that in 2011, she began routing some orders through a second company, Company B, owned by Cole, because the volume of orders MCA placed with the first company was so high. Company A, however, continued to perform the required services. Court records state that Rodriguez received approximately $161,000 in bribes during the nearly two-year scheme, while Cole and Simon personally received $209,000 and $74,500, respectively. Court records also indicate that the total loss to the U.S. Marines from overcharges associated with the machine product orders placed during the scheme was approximately $907,000.

The case was investigated by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, with assistance from the Dougherty County District Attorney TMs Office Economic Crime Unit and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service. The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Richard B. Evans and J.P. Cooney of the Criminal Division TMs Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney K. Alan Dasher of the Middle District of Georgia.

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