- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 11, 2022

A Kansas construction company owner has been sentenced to more than two years in prison for illegally obtaining U.S. government contracts set aside for veterans and minorities.

Matthew C. McPherson, 45, who is neither a veteran nor a minority, also must pay $5.5 million following his conviction on fraud charges in federal court.

According to federal prosecutors, McPherson and his co-conspirators operated Topeka-based Zieson Construction Co., which was awarded almost 200 federal contracts that had been set aside for veterans and minorities.

Stephon Ziegler, 61, a Black disabled veteran, was listed as an owner of Zieson Construction.

“However, Ziegler did not control the day-to-day operations or the long-term decision-making of Zieson. McPherson and his co-conspirators actually controlled and operated Zieson and received most of the profits from Zieson through the respective business entities,” officials with the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri said last week.

McPherson pleaded guilty in June 2019 to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and major program fraud. He admitted to participating in a fraud conspiracy that operated from September 2009 to March 2018.

“This contractor not only defrauded the government but cheated to get contracts that should have gone to firms led by disabled veterans and minority owners,” said U.S. Attorney Teresa Moore. “His greed and deception allowed him to enrich himself at the expense of disabled veterans and minority owners.”

McPherson is scheduled for sentencing next week on other federal charges linked to the fraud case.

• Mike Glenn can be reached at mglenn@washingtontimes.com.

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