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FBI nabs New Jersey woman over construction bribes

12 Jun 14 A woman from New Jersey woman has admitted paying bribes to a former Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) employee who worked as a supervisory engineer at the VA’s campus in East Orange, New Jersey.

Donna Doremus, 46, of Hopewell, New Jersey, pleaded in Trenton federal court to three counts of a four-count information charging her with one count of bribing a public official, one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and two counts of making and subscribing to false federal tax returns.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court the bribes were paid in connection with VA contracts awarded to companies Doremus owned. She also admitted to a conspiracy to defraud the United States by falsely representing that one of her companies was owned and controlled by a service-disabled veteran. Congress has established a programme whereby certain VA contracts are reserved for small businesses that are owned and controlled by service-disabled veterans.

From 2007 to July 2012, Doremus paid approximately US$671,000 (£400,000) in bribes to a former VA official, Jarod Machinga, 44, also of Hopewell, in connection with VA contracts awarded to three companies she owned and controlled. In his position as a supervisory engineer, Machinga had the authority and influence to direct certain VA construction contracts to particular companies. Machinga directed more than US$6 million of VA construction projects to Doremus’ companies.

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On 18 September 2013, Machinga pleaded guilty before Judge Cooper in connection with his accepting kickbacks from Doremus and engaging in a scheme to defraud the VA. He is awaiting sentencing.

The bribery count to which Doremus pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of 15 years in prison and a fine of the greater of US$250,000; twice the gross pecuniary loss or gain; or three times the value of the bribe paid. 

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