Man admits to obstructing audit

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A Fairfax County man yesterday pleaded guilty to obstructing a federal audit of his Falls Church company, which fraudulently overcharged the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) more than $850,000.

Pleading guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Ajit S. Dutta, 59, of Oakton faces five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He will be sentenced March 26, said U.S. Attorney Paul J. McNulty.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Learned handled the prosecution of Dutta’s case, which was investigated by USAID’s inspector general’s office with help from the Defense Contract Audit Agency.

In two other developments yesterday, Mr. McNulty announced that an Alexandria man pleaded guilty to extortion and possession of an unregistered rifle and that an executive of a failed Internet-commerce company was sentenced in connection with a fraud scheme.

Jeffrey R. Anderson, who was a senior vice president at PurchasePro.com of Las Vegas, was sentenced to 33 months in prison and a $2,000 fine. He pleaded guilty in September to conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

In the extortion case, Christian Kerodin, 36, of Alexandria pleaded guilty to telling several local companies that he would showcase them in a report criticizing D.C.-area mall security unless they hired him to do security assessments. He faces up to 30 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.

The Dutta case was brought to court after agents found that Dutta had engaged in illegal activity while providing administrative and logistical services for USAID, a federal agency that channels tax dollars to projects aligned with U.S. foreign policy.

Although his company, Datex Inc., held about $71 million in contracts and grants with USAID, Dutta created bogus costs, which he said were entitled to reimbursement by the federal agency.

Prosecutors said Dutta paid his wife a salary and listed her as a full-time employee when she actually was employed full time elsewhere. He also had Datex pay rent for an office, which was, in fact, a second residence for himself and his wife in New Jersey.

Additionally, Dutta had Datex pay for nonexistent work by Dannix, his consulting company. Unaware that Dutta owned Dannix, federal auditors raised questions about a Datex consulting payment to the company in June 2001.

Asked to verify the payment, Dutta gave a phony list of trips and conferences by Dannix employees in such places as Singapore and India worth $35,000 in travel expenses. The payments were approved as reimbursable by agents who didn’t know they were fake.

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