The plea agreement was announced in a statement issued by United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha on Monday.
By Angela Lemire | Email the author | April 18, 2011
Advanced Solutions for Tomorrow (ASFT) founder and former company president Anjan Dutta-Gupta has agreed to plead guilty in U.S. District Court in Providence to bribery of a public official in connection with an alleged kickback scheme of more than $9 million in Navy defense contracts, according to a statement issued by United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha on Monday.
Dutta-Gupta, 58, of Roswell, GA, agreed to plead guilty to paying bribes to a civilian program manager and senior systems engineer with the United States Navyâ€™s Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), which maintained offices in Newport and Washington, D.C., and to others, in exchange for securing U.S. defense contracts for ASFT, according to the statement.
Prior to the federal investigation, the technology services company had maintained offices in Middletown and Roswell, GA, where its headquarters were located. The company closed its doors in February, resulting in the layoffs of at least 100 local employees, after federal investigators seized company assets as part of its ongoing investigation.
The case has also sparked a Navy-wide probe into the procedures and ethical safeguards for all defense contracts.
According to the U.S. Attorney's Office and a Statement of Facts attached to the Plea Agreement signed by the defendant and filed with the U.S. District Court in Providence on Monday, from about 1996 through January 2011, at least $8 million was paid by ASFT, largely through its subcontractors, to the co-defendant in the case, Ralph Mariano, 52, of Arlington, VA. Mariano worked as a civilian program manager and senior systems engineer with NAVSEA in Newport.
In the kickback and bribery scheme, federal investigators allege that payments were given to Mariano along with family members and to a senior vice president. In addition, at least $1.2 million paid to subcontractors based on inflated invoices was funneled back to SIC, a corporation owned by Dutta-Gupta, investigators charge.
According to court documents, in exchange for Dutta-Gupta and ASFTâ€™s kickbacks of millions of dollars from 1996 through 2011, Mariano took steps to ensure that ASFT received payment on invoices submitted, and that additional funds were added to existing ASFT contracts when needed. In his position as program manager, Mariano regularly instructed Navy contracting officers to add funding to ASFT contracts and delivery orders.
In addition, according to court documents, Mariano completed numerous funding certification forms when he added funds to the ASFT contracts. Through these and other mechanisms, Mariano allegedly utilized his position as a program manager with the Naval Undersea Warfare Center to add millions of dollars to existing ASFT contracts. In exchange, co-defendant Dutta-Gupta agreed to make regular payments to Mariano.
U.S. Customs agents in Atlanta arrested Dutta-Gupta on Feb. 8, as he entered the country on a return trip from Chile. Dutta-Gupta was released on $25,000 unsecured bond following appearances in U.S. District Courts in Atlanta and Providence.
Ralph Mariano, charged in a separate criminal complaint in February, is awaiting trial and remains free on $50,000 unsecured bond.
Last month, a federal judge ordered Mariano to stay out of casinos as an additional term of his freedom after prosecutors learned that he had in recent months won more than $100,000 at Twin River Casino in Lincoln and questioned if he had used illegal monies to obtain such a large cash out.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lee H. Vilker and Andrew J. Reich are prosecuting the ASFT corruption case. Agents from the Defense Criminal Services, Naval Criminal Investigative Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the Criminal Investigations unit within the Internal Revenue Services are conducting the ongoing, joint investigation.
Information from Newport Patch