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New charges filed in bid-rigging case

Mar. 25, 2013 - 06:00PM   |  
By JIM MCELHATTON   |   Comments

A once-prominent Northern Virginia technology contractor is facing bribery charges accusing the firm of paying millions of dollars in kickbacks for contract work and using bogus references to gain entry into a government set-aside program — the latest development in the largest bid-rigging case in U.S. history.

Prosecutors said the company, Nova Datacom LLC, worked with former Army Corps of Engineers contracting official Kerry Khan, who agreed to steer business to the firm. Khan, who has pleaded guilty and awaits sentencing, received $7.5 million “directly and indirectly” from Nova DataCom, according to charges.

Nova Datacom also submitted false information on educational backgrounds and experience in its application to the Small Business Administration in 2007 to win certification as an 8(a) small disadvantaged business and qualify for set-aside contracts, according to charging papers recently filed in U.S. District Court in Washington.

The charges against Nova DataCom stem from a larger, ongoing investigation involving other companies, too. In outlining the case against Khan, prosecutors said the investigation involves more than $30 million in bribes, as well as plans to steer a contract worth more than $1 billion.

In announcing Khan’s guilty plea last year, Ronald Machen Jr., U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, referred to him as “the ringleader of the largest bribery and bid-steering scheme in the history of federal contracting.”

Nova DataCom’s website is no longer active. An attorney for the company did not respond to messages Monday on the charges, but a plea hearing is scheduled for the company and its president next month.

Separately, prosecutors filed bribery and other charges against Min Jung Cho, who is listed in charging papers as the president of Nova DataCom and as the sister of the company’s chief technology officer, Alex Cho. Court papers show Alex Cho began cooperating in the investigation about two years ago.

While the Nova DataCom website isn’t active anymore, Internet archives show the company’s site included a section on corporate citizenship saying the business was “committed to holding ourselves to a higher standard of integrity and accountability.”

The company’s site also included a host of awards and recognitions, including a listing by the Washington Business Journal in 2010 for the top 50 fastest-growing companies.

Federal procurement records list more than $40 million in contact work awarded to the company over the years by, among others, the Army, Navy and departments of Commerce and Interior, with the most recent purchase order paid out last fall.

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