11 sentenced in federal contracting bribery scheme

October 25, 2011 - 2:05 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — Eleven employees and contractors with the U.S. General Services Administration, which manages basic services and buildings for federal agencies, have been sentenced in contracting bribery schemes.

The final defendant, a 25-year GSA veteran named Eric Minor, was sentenced Monday to two and a half years in prison for awarding hundreds of contracts over four years to four different contractors, often for small amounts of a couple thousand dollars each for jobs that didn't even exist. A sobbing Minor told U.S. District Judge Ricardo Urbina that he had a "soft heart" and was moved by the contractors' pleas for work to help support their families.

But Urbina pointed out that the 45-year-old Minor enriched himself, taking $118,000 in kickbacks from the contractors. Prosecutors said Minor and his wife, also a federal employee, made over $250,000 a year combined so they didn't need the money. Federal agents found more than $70,000 of it stashed in a box at Minor's home, and Minor gave them a check for $46,000 to repay the rest at his sentencing. He also resigned his position at GSA, effective Tuesday.

Minor's take was the largest of those charged in the investigation, made public Monday when Urbina unsealed Minor's case at sentencing. The Justice Department disclosed the names of the other 10 defendants, and they included six federal employees and four contractors who have already been sentenced to terms ranging from probation to prison.

Urbina said he believed Minor was "a good man driven by greed," but he needed to give him a tough sentence to show other federal workers the consequences of stealing from taxpayers.