Chapman guilty of bribery, state agencies still buy from briber
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A former Corrections Department facilities manager must forfeit $237,080 and could face as much as 10 years in prison after she pleaded guilty on Thursday to accepting bribes in exchange for state contracts. The company that paid the bribes is still contracting with the state.
The Santa-Fe based Omni Development Corporation so far this year has landed state contracts totaling more than $1.6 million. Omni netted nearly $2.2 million in state contracts last year, and more than $4 million in Corrections Dept. business alone in the three years during which Chapman collected bribes.
Former corrections facility manager Lauri Chapman pleaded guilty to 30 various federal counts based on charges that she took bribes from Omni between February, 2007 and April, 2009. A price agreement procedure Chapman first implemented in 2007 let her select contractors without soliciting competitive bids. Omni became the sole provider of roofing service for the department.
An audit of contracts Chapman oversaw revealed extensive irregularities, including $3.7 million in insufficiently documented or disallowed costs charged by Omni and two other companies. Omni was paid nearly $1.3 million for costs that were not supported by state purchasing procedures.
Auditors turned their findings over to the FBI. Their report said Chapman often worked in the interests of Omni and other contractors, rather than for the state agency. She exchanged non-business e-mails with the contractors, and in one instance provided to Omni confidential state e-mail that raised questions about Omni’s work.
According to the auditor’s report, the problem was neither limited to Omni, nor to the Dept of Corrections. The audit discovered similar pricing agreements used by other state agencies that have probably permitted otherwise disallowed purchases beyond the Corrections Department.
“Due to the insufficient limitations contained in the price agreement’s scope of work, there is a significant risk that additional unallowed purchases have been made by other agencies using the price agreement,” auditors wrote. “The weaknesses also create opportunities for other vendors to charge for services that are unnecessary or not allowed.”
The auditors’ list of potential criminal violations that “may have occurred” included:
- paying or taking public money for services not rendered
- tampering with public records
- violations of the procurement code
- violations of the governmental conduct act
- making or permitting a false public voucher
While three companies were named in the audit, only Omni was identified in federal court documents as paying bribes. A statement from U.S. Attorney Kenneth Gonzales said Chapman accepted bribes in the form of cash, online transfers checks and credit card payments. Chapman accepted 30 various payments “from Omni in exchange for awarding NMCD jobs valued at approximately $4 million to Omni” according the U.S. Attorney’s statement announcing her guilty plea.
According to evidence a federal prosecutor would have presented had Chapman gone to trial, Chapman used her maiden name when she formed a company named Zia Construction, Inc. which accepted some of the bribes Omni paid. The company never performed any work for Omni. Instead, Omni’s owner Anthony Moya went to work for investigators. Serving 18 months in federal prison on a separate embezzlement case, Moya recorded a conversation with Chapman.
In that conversation Moya “expressed concern about Omni’s illegal bribes to Chapman being discovered.” Chapman suggested claiming that the payments were a loan against her state retirement although her retirement, valued at $50,000, was insufficient to repay a purported $80,000 loan she later discussed with investigators.
Moya in 2009 pleaded guilty to separate federal embezzlement charges related to stealing money from Santo Domingo Pueblo from 2002 through 2004. In a plea agreement, Moya admitted misusing about $312,000 from the tribes’ gas station, which was managed by his then father-in-law, lobbyist and Bill Richardson ally Walter “Butch” Maki. Moya was sentenced to 18 months in prison on that conviction, but he was released in nine months after cooperating in the FBI’s Corrections Dept. investigation.
A collection of promotional of Web sites paint Moya as a charitable community leader who built Omni Development over the past 25 years. One page on the sites ever-so vaguely alludes to his prison experience, noting as “ironic” that his company had worked on prisons.
The other two companies named in the audit were not mentioned in Chapman’s indictment, though one is embroiled in a separate corrupt-procurement investigation. Police last year seized documents from Advantage Asphalt, in connection with allegations that Advantage had billed the county for materials the county provided. Advantage, owned by former City of Santa Fe employee and union president. Anthony Montoya, provided the majority of Santa Fe County construction services for several years.
That investigation also targeted then Santa Fe County Public Works director James Lujan. Lujan was subsequently was fired from his county job, and soon found work as city manager in Espanola. The investigation by the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Department is apparently ongoing but has been overshadowed by the arrest of Sheriff Greg Solano on charges that he sold department property on E-Bay.
In a response to the state audit of Corrections Dept. contracts, Secretary of Corrections Lupe Martinez noted that Gov. Susanna Martinez had signed an executive order barring state agencies from doing business with companies engaged in corrupt activities.
Of the three companies singled out in the audit of Corrections Department contracts as providing insufficient documentation to support billed costs, only Omni has landed nearly as much state business so far this year as last — about 95 percent as compared to the same time last year. Omni’s contracts so far this year are with the General Services and Military Affairs departments. Advantage has received no state contracts this year, according to a state Web site.
As of July 8, HEI, Inc. in 2011 had signed $823,271 in state contracts – slightly more than half as much as it had signed with the state by this time last year. Only HEI contracted with Corrections Dept. so far this year, though $23,186 in Corrections Dept. contracts so far this year is only about 7 percent of its Corrections Dept. business for the same period last year.
Among the auditor’s findings, HEI submitted invoices for $2 million worth of work where descriptions were too vague to identify what work had been performed. HEI also billed for subcontractors’ work outside the terms of a price agreement, jacked up material costs and billed for labor costs not supported in records shown to auditors.