- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Four retired Army National Guard colonels have been indicted in connection to a large-scale bribery scheme that involved funneling payments to high-ranking military accomplices in an effort to obtain lucrative marketing contracts.

Federal prosecutors say that Edwin Livingston III, 67; Ronald Tipa, 68; Thomas Taylor, 66; and Ross DeBlois Sr., 55, used their government contracting company, Military Personnel Services Corporation, to move those payments into the pockets of their accomplices. That company was headquartered in Falls Church, Virginia, and at one point boasted more than 1,600 contracted employees across the United States that supported various programs within the Defense Department, according to court documents.

The four men relied on co-conspirators to help them orchestrate their scheme, according to an indictment filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. They now join four retired and one active-duty Army National Guard officials who were charged with a related bribery scheme in October 2014.

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Those co-conspirators include retired Army National Guard Col. Robert Porter, 50, who allegedly used his position as the National Guard Bureau’s Guard Strength Directorate to assist the four men in their endeavor, and former Army National Guard Brig. Gen. John Jones, 76. Mr. Jones eventually came to own about 25 percent of Military Personnel Services Corporation, according to the indictment.

Jones pleaded guilty in February to the role he played in the corruption scheme. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, according to a Feb. 18, 2015, FBI statement. Porter pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery and bribery of a public official in September 2014. 

Porter was in the batch of corrupt officials accused of mishandling federal funds in late 2014, according to a Oct. 14, 2014, Department of Justice statement. He allegedly steered at least three contracts to Military Personnel Services Corporation, worth $5.5 million during 2011 and 2012 while he was “in uniform,” according to a July 15, 2015, Department of Justice statement. In exchange, Porter received three separate payments between July and September 2014 that amounted to $55,000, according to the indictment.

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Prior to receiving those funds, Porter exchanged an email with Mr. Deblois about how he would be payed for his services.

“Will this come as a separate check?” Porter asked.

“It will be processed with the payroll … if you have direct deposit, that is how it will be delivered,” Mr. Deblois responded.

The actions of the four men indicted for their role in the scheme “have brought them dishonor and erode confidence in the integrity of a contracting process intended to support their fellow citizen soldiers,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Paul Sternal of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service Mid-Atlantic Field Office.

“The Defense Criminal Investigative Service, alongside its law enforcement partners and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, remain vigilant and committed to bringing individuals who subvert the acquisition system to justice,” he said.

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