Man gets 20 months in DC tech scam
A Northern Virginia technology executive was sentenced to 20 months in prison and was ordered to repay $844,000 for his part in a bribery and corruption scheme that rocked the District's technology office last year and raised doubts about the city's administrative oversight.
Sushil K. Bansal, 42, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Henry H. Kennedy of the District to two, 20-month terms, to be served concurrently at a minimum-security federal facility in Pennsylvania. Bansal pleaded guilty in April to one count each of bribery and money laundering.
“It is sad for you and for your family,” Kennedy said. “It is also sad for all of your employees and the District of Columbia, and here I speak for the citizens of the District of Columbia.” Kennedy approved the government’s full request for restitution, but cut its preferred sentence of 38 months in prison.
“I am sorry to be standing here,” Bansal said, apologizing for what he called “such disgraceful acts” and pleading for leniency on behalf of his wife and 7 and 11-year-old daughters.
Prosecutors agreed to support a shorter prison sentence for Bansal than federal guidelines called for, citing his quick and complete cooperation once arrests were made in March 2009. Besides Bansal, two low-ranking District workers, have pleaded guilty and received probation for helping with the scam.
Two senior officials, Yusuf Acar, then acting head security officer for the D.C. Office of the Chief Technology Officer, and a colleague Farrukh Awan, have pleaded guilty and await sentencing next week.
Bansal, a former District employee and Howard University graduate, admitted paying $706,000 in bribes and pocketing another $180,000 in a scheme in which Acar shared confidential government contracting information. Both men overcharged District taxpayers for “ghost workers” — or more products and costlier services than were actually delivered — according to court documents. The scheme lasted from September 2005 to March 2009.
Lawyers for Bansal had argued for a reduced payment, claiming he was extorted by Acar and that the District has failed to pay him $900,000 for work his companies, Advanced Integrated Technologies Corp. and Innovative IT Solutions Inc., legitimately provided.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas J. Hibarger cited the good example of an unnamed D.C. government official who became a cooperating witness in the case after being approached by Acar, instead of going along.
“He [Bansal] could have said no. He could have said, ‘Let me get back to you,’ and gone to the FBI,” Hibarger said. “Instead, it escalated and he was happy to share proceeds of his crime.”
In the wake of the scandal, the administration of Mayor Adrian M. Fenty last year placed four employees on administrative leave, fired 23 consultants from firms linked to the scam, and initiated audits. But D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles advised city officials not to testify to a D.C. Council panel investigating the crimes.
Washington Post editors
August 6, 2010; 1:53 PM ET
Categories: From the Courthouse , Spencer S. Hsu , Technology , The District
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