Seven people pleaded guilty Wednesday in a wide-ranging corruption scheme at Naval air station North Island in Coronado. Lea Sutton spoke with Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Huie, who is prosecuting the case, and Mari Payton also investigated the background of the contractors behind the scheme.
Two more San Diego-area defense contractors were convicted for trying to bribe Navy officials with expensive gifts and then overbilling the military to cover the cost of the bribe.
Jurors returned a split verdict Monday in the case of Robert Ehnow, owner of L&N Industrial Tool & Supply and Joanne Loehr owner of Centerline Industrial. Both companies are based in Poway.
Ehnow and Loehr were convicted of conspiracy and bribery for providing Navy officials with cash, gift cards, luxury massage chairs, expensive bicycles, model airplanes and flat screen TV's.
In return, the Navy officials placed more than $6 million in government orders.
Additionally, the defense contractors submitted fraudulent invoices to the Department of Defense which they used to pay for more bribes
Monday’s convictions brought the total of people convicted in this ongoing case to 11 with five of those convicted being U.S. Navy officials.
“We won’t stand for these secret deals between greedy defense contractors and government officials, who received luxurious gifts at taxpayers’ expense. These defense contractors profited, not from doing business the right way, but by fraud and bribery,” U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy stated in a prepared news release.
L&N received more than $3 million in defense contracts during the conspiracy officials said. The company declared bankruptcy in June 2011.
Centerline, which is still in business, received more than $1.5 million from the Defense Department prosecutors said.
Ehnow and Loehr will be sentenced May 20.
The investigation into in a wide-ranging corruption scheme at the Naval Fleet Readiness Center at NAS North Island in Coronado was launched based on citizen complaints.
These complaints followed the July 2009 indictment of six individuals on fraud and corruption charges centered at the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, according to prosecutors.
Anyone wanting to report public corruption can call an FBI hotline 877- NO-BRIBE.