Former Army Contracting Official Sentenced to Four Years in Prison in Bribery and Kickback Scheme
WASHINGTON—In Seon Lim, a former contracting official for the U.S. Department of the Army, was sentenced today to four years in prison for his role in a scheme in which he accepted over $490,000 worth of benefits, including cash payments and vacations, from favored contractors. In return, he helped these businesses obtain millions of dollars in federal contracts.
The sentencing was announced by Ronald C. Machen Jr., U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia; Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Andrew G. McCabe, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office; Thomas J. Kelly, Special Agent in Charge of the Washington Field Office of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI); Peggy E. Gustafson, Inspector General for the Small Business Administration (SBA); Robert E. Craig, Jr., Special Agent in Charge of the Mid-Atlantic Field Office of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS), and Frank Robey, Director of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command’s Major Procurement Fraud Unit (MPFU).
Lim, 48, of Fairfax Station, Va., also known as InSeon Lim, pled guilty in July 2014 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to three offenses: conspiracy to commit bribery and honest services wire fraud; bribery; and attempting to interfere with and impede tax laws. He was sentenced by the Honorable Leonie M. Brinkema.
Upon completion of his prison term, Lim will be placed on three years of supervised release. He also must pay restitution, including $250,000 to the Department of Defense and nearly $125,000 to the IRS. In addition, he must pay a forfeiture money judgment of $490,262.
Lim is among 18 individuals and one corporation, Nova Datacom, LLC, to plead guilty to federal charges in an investigation that uncovered the largest domestic bribery and bid-rigging scheme in the history of federal contracting cases. Overall, participants in the scheme stole over $30 million in government money through inflated and fictitious invoices.
According to a statement of offense, signed by Lim as well as the government, Lim was a public official until April 2012. The charges involve his activities as an assistant project manager and product director with the Program Executive Office Enterprise Information Systems, a part of the Army that provides infrastructure and informational management systems.
Until June 2010, Lim resided and worked in Seoul, South Korea. While in South Korea, his primary duties were to oversee and implement communications systems upgrades for the U.S. forces there, which included approximately 10 communications centers and various other special projects at military sites throughout the country. Among other things, Lim coordinated work on a major contract, which, in turn, had numerous sub-contracts.
From June 2010 until his resignation in April 2012, Lim worked as a product director at Fort Belvoir, Va.
In the statement of offense, Lim admits that he secretly used his official position to enrich himself by soliciting and accepting gifts, payments and other things of value from government contractors—totaling more than $490,000—in return for favorable official action. Among other things, the statement of offense notes, Lim received payments personally and to accounts that he controlled; payments for travel, vacation, vehicles, cellphones and cellular service for himself and family members; ownership interests in two companies, and other benefits.
In exchange, Lim now admits, he provided favorable official action on subcontracts obtained and retained by the favored government contractors as requested and as opportunities arose. He also disclosed confidential bid information to the favored government contractors.
“This Army official sold the public trust for a half-million dollars in bribes,” said U.S. Attorney Machen. “Lim is now headed to prison along with many other corrupt officials and government contractors brought down in this sweeping investigation. His fate is a warning shot for other government officials tempted to sell out the American people to line their own pockets that they should think twice. The prison sentences handed out in this case make clear that government officials and business people who corrupt the contracting process put their own freedom at risk.”
“In his role as a federal contracting officer, In Seon Lim betrayed the trust that was placed in him by fellow citizens by taking bribes in exchange for providing favorable action on government contracts,” said Assistant Director in Charge McCabe. “The FBI, with our partners, will continue to investigate and expose fraudulent kickback schemes that tarnish the good and ethical work that procurement officers carry out on behalf of the U.S. government each and every day.”
“The kickback scheme in which In Seon Lim participated disrespected the hard work and dedication of thousands of government employees who are committed to providing honest services in the federal contracting process,” said Special Agent in Charge Kelly. “IRS-Criminal Investigation stands committed to weeding out individuals, who abuse the privilege of their positions as a public official, for their personal gain.”
“Today’s sentencing is a reminder that public servants are accountable for their actions, and individuals who violate the public’s trust will be brought to justice,” said Small Business Administration Inspector General Gustafson. “The actions of In Seon Lim and his conspirators grossly undermine the honest work being done every day by Federal employees and government contractors. I want to thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office for its dedicated leadership and professionalism in pursuit of justice served today.”
“As a contracting official for the Department of Defense, In Seon 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 Special Agent in Charge Craig. “The Defense Criminal Investigative Service and our law enforcement partners are fully committed to aggressively investigating and prosecuting this kind of illegal activity within the federal procurement process.”
“Mr. Lim admitted that he secretly used his official position to ‘enrich himself’ when committing these selfish criminal acts,” said Director Robey, of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command’s Major Procurement Fraud Unit. “That attitude and the related criminal actions will not be tolerated in the Department of the Army. Let this again be a warning to all who work with and for the U.S. Army: if you commit contract fraud, we will catch you and do everything within our power to see you brought to justice, just like Mr. Lim.”
The court documents provide details about numerous contracts and payments. For example:
-Nova Datacom: According to the statement of offense, two former employees of the Northern Virginia company—Alex N. Cho, also known as Young N. Cho, and Nick Park—paid Lim $40,000 in cash in 2007. In addition, Park paid for Lim’s travel, lodging, meals and entertainment during a trip to the Philippines in 2007, and Cho paid for Lim’s lodging, $10,000 cash, and a $1,000 casino chip during a trip later that year to Las Vegas. Lim, meanwhile, agreed to use his official position to recommend the company for a contract valued at nearly $330,000.
-Avenciatech:According to the statement of offense, former officials of Avenciatech, Inc., a government contractor based in Annandale, Va., provided Lim with cash payments; payments for hotel stays for Lim and family members, including a trip to the Atlantis resort in the Bahamas; payments to finance the purchase of a 2010 Lexus automobile, and payments for other things of value. One of the officials, Oh Sung Kwon, also known as Thomas Kwon, also assisted Lim in obtaining financing for the purchase of a home in Fairfax Station, Va., where Lim resided following his reassignment in 2010 to a position at Fort Belvoir. Lim, meanwhile, assisted the company in obtaining more than $3 million in contracts.
-UEI: Nick Park left Nova Datacom in 2007 and co-founded another government contractor, Unisource Enterprise Inc. (UEI), based in Annandale, Va. According to the statement of offense, in exchange for favorable treatment, Lim was given a secret ownership in UEI. Among other things, Lim provided Park with sensitive procurement information. He also assisted the company in obtaining a government sub-contract worth over $1.1 million.
Cho, Park, and Kwon are among those who earlier pled guilty to charges in the case.
In addition to pleading guilty to the conspiracy and bribery charges, Lim admitted that he failed to report the bribes he received on tax returns for the years 2007 through 2011. He also failed to keep records that would allow him to file accurate records for 2012 and 2013.
In announcing today’s sentence, U.S. Attorney Machen, U.S. Attorney Boente, Assistant Director in Charge McCabe, Special Agent in Charge Kelly, Inspector General Gustafson, Special Agent in Charge Craig, and Director Robey thanked those who investigated the case from the FBI’s Washington Field Office; the Washington Field Office of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, the Office of the Inspector General for the Small Business Administration; the Department of Defense’s Defense Criminal Investigative Service; the Defense Contract Audit Agency, and the Army Criminal Investigation Command. They also expressed thanks to the U.S. Marshals Service for its assistance on the forfeiture matter.
They also praised the efforts of those who prosecuted the case, including Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael K. Atkinson of the Fraud and Public Corruption Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Saler of the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jack Hanly, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.
Finally, they expressed thanks for assistance provided by former Assistant U.S. Attorney Bryan Seeley; former Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Dana; Forensic Accountant Maria Boodoo; Paralegal Specialists Tasha Harris, Krishawn Graham, and Taryn McLaughlin; and Legal Assistant Jessica McCormick, all of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.