U.S. Attorney Bart M. Davis announced on Monday, Dec. 14, that James Heslep, a former Management and Program Analyst during this time at the FBI, pleaded guilty to receiving a bribe as a public official as well as making and subscribing a false income tax return.
“Public officials take a solemn oath not to exploit their office for personal gain,” said U.S. Attorney Davis. “Mr. Heslep disregarded his ethics training, purposely violated that oath, and compromised the FBI’s contracting process. This case stands as a cautionary warning for other public officials entrusted with influence over government contracts.”
FBI official took bribes from Virgina businessman for Idaho project
According to court records, Heslep was responsible for managing construction and services contracts for FBI buildings across the country. The records show that in 2008, he became a business acquaintance with Robert Bailey, a Virginia businessman who pleaded guilty to bribing a public official in October of this year.
In 2017, the FBI broke ground on the construction of a data center in Pocatello, Idaho. This project involved the construction of a two-building 140,000 square-foot complex that would accommodate data halls containing computer equipment and office space, with the purpose of consolidating multiple FBI data centers from across the country. That same year, Heslep became the Contracting Officer Representative (COR) for the Pocatello Data Center project, giving him management and oversight responsibilities over the construction of the data center.
Court records show that from 2016 through 2018, Bailey made illegal payments and gave items of value to Heslep. These included 18 deposits totaling $120,000 into a bank account controlled by Heslep. The latter used these funds to make payments on a personal loan, car, credit card, home mortgage and vacation travel payments. He also used these for personal expenditures at retail stores, such as a pair of diamond earrings that cost $5,300.
Bailey supposedly gave these items to Heslep with the intent to influence the latter into performing official acts at the FBI to benefit Bailey’s company, L1, which was working on the Pocatello Data Center.
These official acts include Heslep seeking and receiving authorization for around $16,000 monthly per diem payments from the FBI to Bailey for employees staying at Bailey’s house instead of a hotel; Heslep soliciting and including Bailey’s edits in the statement of work to a $12.2 million construction and services bridge contract related to the Pocatello Data Center project and Heslep convincing his superiors to pay Bailey’s company for its work on the bridge contract at higher Washington, D.C. metropolitan-area labor rates, which were 30 percent higher than Idaho labor rates.
Heslep faces up to 18 years in prison and half a million in fines
Should Heslep be found guilty of the bribery charge, he faces up to 15 years in federal prison as well as a $250,000 fine or not more than three times the monetary equivalent of the thing of value, whichever is greater. He will also be disqualified from holding any office of “honor, trust, or profit” under the U.S., and up to three years of supervised release.
Meanwhile, he also faces up to three more years in federal prison, another $250,000 fine and up to one year of supervised release for the change of making and subscribing a false federal income tax return.
“We trust public officials to do their work with integrity and honesty,” said Douglas B. Bruce, Special Agent in Charge of the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General Denver Field Office. “Instead, Heslep abused his position. He accepted bribes of cash, sports tickets, and other items of value in exchange for granting favorable contracting terms. The Office of the Inspector General will continue to root out this kind of behavior.”
For bribing Heslep, Bailey also faces up to 15 years in federal prison and up to $250,000 in fines.
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