SAFB Employees and Contractors Indicted in Conspiracy - Newschannel 6 Now | Wichita Falls, TX

SAFB Employees and Contractors Indicted in Conspiracy

FORT WORTH, Texas - Two Sheppard Air Force Base employees and two government contractors have been indicted in a conspiracy to gain unfair advantage in the contracting business.

A federal grand jury in Fort Worth returned the indictment late Wednesday.

SAFB employees John Torrance Gilmore, III, 53, and Larry Thomas Ballard, 60, of Wichita Falls and contractor James Carmon Freeman, 50, of Vernon, Texas to made their initial appearance in federal court in Wichita Falls Friday at 10:00 a.m.

All three pleaded not guilty to all counts against them.

Freeman and Ballard's bonds are $50 thousand dollars and it is not clear if anyone bailed them out yet.

Gilmore was release $100 thousand dollar bond which was secured by his extensive gun collections.

Contractor Miguel Angel Hughes, 63, of Fort Worth, Texas was scheduled to appear that same day at 2:00 p.m. in federal court in Dallas.

Gilmore served as the Lead Civil Engineer in the Civil Engineering Squadron's engineering department, supervising several engineers, including co-defendant Ballard.  The Civil Engineering Squadron's mission was to maintain SAFB facilities and provide civil engineering support to the base.

Defendant Hughes owned Hughes and Guzman Construction Services, LLC, (Hughes Building Services) a roofing contractor and subcontractor, with offices in Fort Worth, Dallas and Balch Springs, Texas. Defendant Freeman owned Freeman Construction, a road-building and paving contractor, with offices in Wichita Falls and Vernon, Texas.

The indictment claims the four defendants conspired together to impair and obstruct the government's ability to have a competitive and unbiased selection of contractors - depriving the government of its right to exclusive use and control over sensitive source selection information, to include contractor bid information, government pricing and cost estimates and contractor proposal information. 

The indictment also claims the defendants conspired together to knowingly disclose and obtain sensitive source selection information related to several contracts' specifications, including those for roof and pothole repairs and the liquid oxygen maintenance facility.

According to the indictment, the purpose of the conspiracy was for government employees Gilmore and Ballard to unlawfully give sensitive source selection information to their friends, Freeman and Hughes, to provide them with a competitive advantage or financial benefit in connection with multiple government contracts.  Freeman and/or Hughes, in turn, paid thousands of dollars in cash bribes, provided travel expenses and other gifts to Gilmore and Ballard.

Here are the charges they're facing:

John Torrance Gilmore, III

  • one count of conspiracy to defraud the U.S.
  • one count conspiracy to unlawfully disclose and obtain sensitive source selection information.
  • one count of unlawful disclosure of sensitive source selection information.

Larry Thomas Ballard

  • one count of conspiracy to defraud the U.S.
  • one count conspiracy to unlawfully disclose and obtain sensitive source selection information.
  • four counts of unlawful disclosure of sensitive source selection information.

James Carmon Freeman

  • one count of conspiracy to defraud the U.S.
  • one count conspiracy to unlawfully disclose and obtain sensitive source selection information.
  • three counts of obtaining sensitive source selection information.

Miguel Angel Hughes

  • one count of conspiracy to defraud the U.S.
  • one count conspiracy to unlawfully disclose and obtain sensitive source selection information.
  • two counts of obtaining sensitive source selection information.

U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña of the Northern District of Texas announced, "I commend the joint investigative efforts of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service and the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, whose cooperation and collaborative efforts directly contributed to the charges brought in this indictment."

U.S. Attorney Saldaña said her office will continue to work closely with these agencies to make sure those who violate the Procurement Integrity Act are brought to justice. 

"This type of alleged criminal activity undermines the confidence of the American public who demand a military procurement system that spends their tax dollars wisely and responsibly. These charges highlight the federal government's continuing resolve to investigate and prosecute suspected fraud and corruption in military contracting," said Special Agent in Charge Janice M. Flores of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service.   
                                                            
"AFOSI takes each fraud inquiry or complaint very seriously.  All of the agents assigned to this case took an aggressive, steady approach, knowing up front that this investigation would take a long time and that it would require coordination at many levels," said Brig. Gen. Kevin J. Jacobsen, Air Force Office of Special Investigations commander.  "The results of today's indictment speak loudly for all the hard work done by them during this investigation."

An indictment is an accusation by a federal grand jury, and a defendant is entitled to the presumption of innocence unless proven guilty.  However, if convicted, each count of the indictment carries a maximum statutory sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.  Restitution could also be ordered.
                                    
Assistant U.S. Attorney David Jarvis is in charge of the prosecution.

Newschannel 6 Christina Myers spoke with Sheppard Air Force Base Officials about this indictment scandal. Tune in to Newschannel 6 tonight to hear what she learned.

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