Two Missouri men have been indicted for allegedly perpetrating an SDVOSB “rent-a-vet” scheme to fraudulently obtain 20 contracts totaling more than $13.8 million.
According to a Department of Justice press release, the veteran in question nominally served as the company’s President, but did not control the company’s strategic decisions or day-to-day management–in fact, the veteran apparently was working full-time for the DoD instead of managing the SDVOSB.
The indictment contends that Jeffrey Wilson, who is not a service-disabled veteran, owned a Missouri-based construction company. According to the DOJ, Wilson conspired with Paul Salavtich, a service-disabled veteran, to obtain SDVOSB set-aside contracts with the VA and Army.
Salavitch was nominally the President of his company, Patriot Company, Inc. However, the DOJ contends, Mr. Salavitch did not actually manage Patriot’s long-term decisions or day-to-day operations, nor did he work full-time for Patriot. Instead, Salavitch was a full-time employee with the DoD, based in Leavenworth, Kansas. The indictment suggests that Mr. Wilson, not Mr. Salavitch, actually controlled the company.
The indictment is rife with examples of conduct that appear to suggest that the conspirators knew that what they were doing was wrong–and were taking steps to try to hide it. For example, when Patriot was leasing new space, Mr. Wilson stated in an email that he wanted a “thing or two” from Mr. Salavitch “to put in that office that is personal.” Mr. Wilson stated that the purpose of obtaining these personal items was so “if one stepped into [the office], it would look and feel like Patriot.”
It will be up to a judge or jury to decide why Mr. Wilson made statements like these, but here’s one guess: Mr. Wilson was aware that the VA Center for Verification and Evaluation performs unannounced on-site visits, and, for the benefit of potential VA inspectors, was attempting to create the impression that Mr. Salavitch actually worked out of the Patriot office.
The indictment alleges that Patriot was awarded 20 SDVOSB and VOSB set-aside contracts with the VA and Army, totaling $13,819,522. The contracts included construction projects across the Midwest; the largest contract was $4.3 million.
Mr. Wilson, Mr. Salavitch and Patriot are charged with conspiracy and four counts of major government contract fraud. Mr. Wilson is also charged with one count of wire fraud and two counts of money laundering. The indictment contains forfeiture obligations, which would require Mr. Wilson and Mr. Salavitch to forfeit any property derived from the proceeds of the fraud scheme. Law enforcement has already seized over $2 million from various financial accounts.
As with any indictment, the defendants are entitled to a presumption of innocence. But if Mr. Wilson and Mr. Salavitch are found guilty, perhaps they will find themselves better acquainted with Leavenworth than they would have hoped. I’ll keep you posted.