- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 18, 2009

White House Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra has returned to his post after being placed on leave following a corruption scandal in his former office, but the reinstatement comes amid reports of his guilty plea to a theft charge roughly 13 years ago.

Mr. Kundra, 34, was placed on leave after an FBI raid Thursday that coincided with the arrests of his former deputy and another man in connection with the scandal in the D.C. Office of the Chief Technology Officer.

White House officials have confirmed that Mr. Kundra, who ran the D.C. office from 2007 until this year, is not a target of the federal investigation and that he has been allowed to return to his position.

“Mr. Kundra has been informed that he is neither a subject nor a target of the investigation and has been reinstated,” White House spokesman Nick Shapiro said Tuesday.

However, Maryland court records show Mr. Kundra was cited in 1996 for theft of material less than $300 in value.

Court records from Montgomery County District Court show he pleaded guilty and was fined $500 but had $400 of the amount suspended. Mr. Kundra was charged an additional $55 in court fees.

The disposition of his case is listed as a “probation before judgment,” which in Maryland can allow a defendant to say he or she was not convicted of a crime.

The exact circumstances of the case could not be determined because complete court records were not available Tuesday.

Gary L. Segal, Mr. Kundra’s lawyer at the time, told The Washington Times he has “zero recollection of that case.”

White House officials said they were aware of the theft but declined to comment about the vetting process for Mr. Kundra. Mr. Shapiro called the incident a “youthful indiscretion” years in the past.

“He performed community service, and we are satisfied that he fully resolved the matter,” he said.

Still, news of the theft comes at an inopportune time for President Obama, who has seen some of his choices for top political posts drop out and come under criticism.

For example, former Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle withdrew last month as health and human services secretary because of his failure to pay taxes - a situation Mr. Obama called “an embarrassment” for his administration.

Two men have been arrested in the D.C. office case.

Yusuf Acar, an employee in the chief technology officer’s office, appeared Tuesday in U.S. District Court and was ordered by U.S. Magistrate Judge John Facciola to be held in jail.

Sushil Bansal, the chief executive officer of a Washington-based information technology company, was released Thursday and is expected back in court next month.

Court documents state the men are accused of involvement in a scheme to steal money from the D.C. government - a scheme that featured contract kickbacks and billing the city for hours worked by “ghost” employees.

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