Former Ft. Bragg employee sentenced to prison, ordered to pay millions in restitution for conspiracy and stealing government property
A man was sentenced June 12 to 17 months in prison for conspiracy to steal government property and stealing government property, according to a press release from the Department of Justice, Eastern District of North Carolina. Morris Cooper pleaded guilty to the charges on September 14, 2020.
According to court documents and other information presented in court, Cooper was a purchasing agent assigned to the Operations and Maintenance Division, Directorate of Public Works (DPW), at Fort Bragg and was entrusted to purchase HVAC parts for DPW’s HVAC maintenance section. He was named in an indictment filed on August 20, 2019, which charged that Cooper used his position as purchasing agent in the DPW on Ft. Bragg to receive cash and gifts for both him and his wife, Beverley Cooper, from vendors in return for steering contracts for supplies to those vendors. According to the DOJ release, he also at times inflated the prices for items under those contracts beyond market price, increasing both the profits to the vendor and the cash payment made to Cooper and/or his wife.
Beverley Cooper was also charged with conspiring to steal government property and aiding and abetting Cooper to do so and was sentenced to five years probation.
Both Cooper and Beverley Cooper earlier entered pleas of guilty to conspiracy to steal government property in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 371 and Cooper additionally entered a plea of guilty to the substantive charge of stealing government property in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 641, stated the release.
The Coopers were ordered to pay $6,300,000 in restitution and an order of forfeiture was entered in the amount of $1,283,135.15, the amount they agree they personally profited from the conspiracy, stated the release.
G. Norman Acker III, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Louise W. Flanagan: “Today’s judgment evinces the ongoing fight against fraud, waste and abuse in the government and particularly that perpetrated by and with the assistance of government personnel.”
“Bribery and fraud have no place in the government contracting system,” said Frank Robey, director of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command’s Major Procurement Fraud Unit. “This sentencing shows that we will not allow this sort of subterfuge to occur and those that do attempt it will be caught.”
“We hope this case sends a stark warning about the consequences of violating the public trust for personal gain and compromising the integrity of the Department of Defense,” said Special Agent in Charge Christopher Dillard, DCIS, Mid-Atlantic Field Office. “The Defense Criminal Investigative Service, along with our law enforcement partners, remains committed to rooting out fraud and corruption and safeguarding the valuable resources entrusted to the Department of Defense by the American taxpayer.”
The Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) and the U.S. Army Criminal Investigative Division, Major Procurement Fraud Unit, with assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, investigated the case.