Covington Businessman Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud in Aftermath of BP Oil Spill
|U.S. Attorney’s Office November 29, 2012|
NEW ORLEANS—Bay E. Ingram, age 50, a resident of Covington, Louisiana, pled guilty yesterday in front of United States District Judge Sarah S. Vance to a one-count bill of information charging him with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, announced U.S. Attorney Jim Letten.
According to court documents, Ingram was a businessman who owned and operated Southeast Recovery Group (SRG), a company that provided disaster relief services in the aftermath of the oil spill due to the sinking of the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010. Ingram, through his company SRG, provided a helicopter that was supposed to be used for oil spill response by representatives of the St. Bernard Parish Sheriff’s Office and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and also assisted in the construction of helipads at the Hopedale, Louisiana facility of British Petroleum p.l.c. (BP). In the case of both the helicopter and the helipads, Ingram, through his company SRG, acted as a “middleman” between the supplier of the helicopter and the companies responsible for the construction of the helipads, on the one hand; and BP, who was billed for cost of providing the goods and services, on the other hand.
According to documents filed with the court, Ingram arranged for the helicopter to be stationed at Hopedale from June through November 2010 but never had an agreement with BP to supply the helicopter after June 15, 2010. In an effort to get paid by BP and to justify the amount of his unpaid invoices to BP totalling approximately $1.4 million, Ingram falsified and forged documents, including a contract between his company and his subcontractor company that provided, equipped, and crewed the helicopter, as well as flight logs and flight manifests for the helicopter.
The factual basis states that Ingram caused the construction of five helipads at Hopedale at a cost of approximately $110,000. He then falsely represented to BP that his actual costs had been over $250,000 and billed BP for, and was paid, $303,000.
Throughout the period June 2010 and April 2011, court documents assert that Ingram’s suppliers repeatedly contacted Ingram in an effort to seek payment. Trying to dissuade his suppliers from contacting BP directly, Ingram created false and fictitious e-mails, some in the names of real persons and some in the name of a non-existent or fictitious person. For example, it is charged that Ingram sent e-mails purporting to have been sent by a fictitious person, “Jerry Aldini,” with a Yahoo e-mail address to various persons during the course of the scheme.
Ingram faces a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment, three years’ supervised release, a $250,000 fine, and a $100 special assessment. Ingram will also be required to pay restitution in the amount of $463,271.31. The restitution will be paid to the following entities in the following amounts: $314,091.77 to Rotorcraft Leasing Company LLC and $149,179.54 to British Petroleum p.l.c. Sentencing has been scheduled for February 20, 2013 at 9:30 a.m.
The case was investigated by special agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Matt Chester and Eileen Gleason.