01/17/2023 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 01/18/2023 18:27
A Texas military contractor pleaded guilty on Jan. 12 to rigging bids on public military contracts in the state of Texas.
According to court documents, Aaron Stephens, 53, conspired with others to rig bids on certain government contracts from May 2013 to January 2018 in order to give the false impression of competition and to secure government payments in excess of $17.2 million. The plea agreement detailed six contracting bids that Stephens and his co-conspirators rigged, which included work performed for the Red River Army Depot in Texarkana, Texas. The projects included heavy military equipment work such as refurbishing armor kits for military trucks and turrets for Humvees. One of Stephens's co-conspirators, John "Mark" Leveritt, pleaded guilty in July 2022.
Stephens pleaded guilty to a violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act. He faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1 million criminal fine. The maximum fine may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by the victims of the crime if either amount is greater than the statutory maximum fine. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other relevant factors.
The Antitrust Division's Washington Criminal II Section is prosecuting the case, which was investigated with the assistance of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Texas, the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division's Dallas Fraud Resident Agency, and the FBI's Dallas Field Office.
In November 2019, the Department of Justice created the Procurement Collusion Strike Force (PCSF), a joint law enforcement effort to combat antitrust crimes and related fraudulent schemes that impact government procurement, grant, and program funding at all levels of government - federal, state and local. For more information, visit https://www.justice.gov/procurement-collusion-strike-force.