- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 26, 2014

A key official in what prosecutors have called the biggest bid-rigging scheme in U.S. contracting history received a four-year prison sentence Friday, as newly filed sentencing papers provided fresh details about why the scam went undetected for years.

In a sign of just how sprawling and far-reaching the contracting fraud was, an attorney for former Army contracting official In Seon Lim sought leniency partly by arguing that his client took only $490,000 in bribes.

That would be an enormous sum in any nearly other corruption scheme, but it’s paltry compared to the roughly $30 million in bribes steered to the scheme’s ringleader, former Army Corps of Engineer program manager Kerry Khan, who is serving 19 years in prison.

Lim’s four-year sentence appeared to be a compromise between the three years sought by his attorney and the five-year prison term requested by prosecutors, according to sentencing papers filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

But U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Ron Machen, whose office oversaw the investigation, and other federal law enforcement officials called the sentence a “warning shot” to other corrupt government officials and contractors in a statement Friday.

“As a contracting official for the Department of Defense, Lim disregarded his duty, lived a lie at the expense of the American taxpayers, and completely violated the trust placed in him by his position,” said Robert E. Craig Jr., special agent in charge of the Mid-Atlantic Field Office of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service.

Responsible for overseeing communications upgrades for the Army in South Korea, Lim received superior job ratings from supervisors even as he was taking cash bribes, vacations and a new Lexus to steer contracts.

One reason the scam may have been hard to detect was that the it essentially built the cost of bribes into invoices submitted to the government, according to sentencing papers.

Lim wrote contract requirements and statements of work, then steered work to contractors by tipping them off to confidential bid information, prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memo explaining how the scam worked.

Once the corrupt contractors received the awards, they submitted bogus, inflated invoices. The government paid, and Lim took sizable kickbacks from the proceeds, according to court records.

One defunct contracting company called Unisource Enterprise, co-founded by another defendant, Nick Park, even made Lim a silent partner at the same time the Army contracting official was steering work to the business.

Former officials at another company, Avenciatech, gave Lim cash, paid for his hotel stays in places like the Bahamas, helped him buy a 2010 Lexus and arranged financing for Lim but buy a house in Virginia after his transfer to Fort Belvoir from South Korea, according to prosecutors.

When he’s released from prison, Lim will also have to serve three years on probation. Lim also must pay a $490,262 forfeiture judgment and restitution of $250,00 to the Department of Defense and nearly $125,000 to the Internal Revenue Service, according to prosecutors.

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