Federal Government Contractor Sentenced to Prison for Providing Bribes in a Government Contract Fraud Scheme
PENSACOLA, FLORIDA – Michael Allen Braun, 54, of Forest Lake, Minnesota, was sentenced to 18 months in prison and $126,300 in restitution for conspiracy (to commit theft of honest services and wire fraud) and bribery of a public official. Co-conspirator United States Air Force Master Sergeant Cody Boone Covert, 43, of Fort Walton Beach, was sentenced to 23 months in prison on February 23, 2017, for conspiracy and bribery of a public official. The sentence was announced by Christopher P. Canova, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida.
In January 2014, MSgt. Covert, 901st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, Hurlburt Field, was tasked by the Air Force with procuring specialized equipment in support of C-130 Special Operations Aircraft. Braun, who owned the company Trans Global Storage Solutions, conspired with Covert to obtain a contract from the United States Air Force. Prior to the solicitation of the contract, Braun agreed to provide Covert 45% of the profit from the contract proceeds, if Covert ensured that Trans Global won the contract. Covert submitted a request to purchase the specialized equipment. Because Covert was the requester of the equipment, he was chosen to evaluate each proposal for technical acceptance. Subsequently, Covert recommended the Trans Global proposal be accepted. After Trans Global was fraudulently awarded the $126,300 contract from the United States Air Force via Covert’s inside influence, Covert and Braun split the proceeds. Covert pled guilty on October 28, 2016, and Braun pled guilty on January 12, 2017.
U.S. Attorney Canova said, “The United States Attorney’s Office, along with our other federal, state, and local government partners, is committed to upholding the law by exposing corruption and pursuing justice for those lawbreakers who abuse their authority and positions of trust. I commend the work of the investigating and prosecuting team on this case. Public service carries a high ethical standard, and no one is above the law.”
Special Agent-in-Charge Wendell W. Palmer, United States Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI)-Procurement Fraud Detachment 5, Southeast Field Office, stated, “This was a great outcome for the investigation and prosecution of those who would do damage to the integrity of the U.S. Air Force acquisition process. Dedicated and thorough work on the part of investigators and prosecutors alike have once again protected the warfighting capability of the world’s greatest air and space fighting force. The teamwork exhibited by investigators and prosecutors, and the sentence, sends a strong message that fraud against our government will not be tolerated.”
“Corruption in the government procurement process damages the public trust and ultimately degrades the warfighting mission of the Department of Defense,” commented Special Agent-in-Charge John F. Khin, Southeast Field Office, Defense Criminal Investigative Service. “DCIS, with our investigative partners and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, continues to pursue and bring to justice those contractors who defraud military programs, especially when it jeopardizes the safety of our brave men and women in uniform.”
The case was investigated by the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, and the Defense Contract Audit Agency. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney James M. Ustynoski.