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Tech office scandal prompts new arrest
Question of the Day
A corruption scandal in the District’s technology office widened Thursday with the arrest of another city employee.
Farrukh Awan, 37, of South Riding, Va., was arrested on charges of bribery and money laundering. Mr. Awan worked in the Office of the Chief Financial Officer - site of a $50 million embezzlement scandal uncovered two years ago - at the time of his arrest. He previously worked for the Office of the Chief Technology Officer and as a city contractor.
He has been a full-time employee at the finance office since 2007, and is now on administrative leave.
The arrest is the third in the scandal and comes one day after city officials put four technology office employees on leave and fired 23 consultants.
Investigators did not say whether there would be more arrests. However, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty said the probe is not complete.
“We don’t want anyone to think there isn’t more action to come by the government,” he said.
Last week, authorities arrested Yusuf Acar, the office’s acting chief of security, and Sushil Bansal, a consultant, on similar charges.
Court documents state that the two men were involved in a scheme to steal money from the D.C. government with contract kickbacks and by billing the city for hours worked by “ghost” employees.
According to an affidavit filed by FBI agent Mary Gleeson, Mr. Awan told Mr. Bansal in 2005 that he would have to pay kickbacks in order for employees of Mr. Bansal’s company, Advanced Integrated Technologies Corp., to be approved to work at the technology office. Mr. Awan shared those bribes with Mr. Acar, authorities say.
An informant, who is a technology office employee, told investigators the scam also included buying lower quality equipment than what the District was billed for, with the conspirators pocketing the difference, the documents say.
Mr. Awan’s wife received money as a ghost employee, according to what the informant told agents.
The recently departed head of the technology office, Vivek Kundra, was appointed to a White House technology post. He was placed on leave after last week’s arrests but has since been reinstated.
Mr. Fenty on Thursday announced Chris Willey as the interim director of the technology office. Mr. Willey has more than 17 years experience in information technology, including work in senior management and Web development. His most recent job was as Mr. Kundra’s deputy.
Mr. Willey was chosen because he was at the “forefront of positive initiatives” in the office, Mr. Fenty said.
“I am outraged when anyone has abused the public trust,” Mr. Fenty said.
About the Author
Ben Conery is a member of the investigative team covering the Supreme Court and legal affairs. Prior to coming to The Washington Times in 2008, Mr. Conery covered criminal justice and legal affairs for daily newspapers in Connecticut and Massachusetts. He was a 2006 recipient of the New England Newspaper Association’s Publick Occurrences Award for a series of articles about ...
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