In late December, the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia announced the sentencing of a former Department of Defense employee. Roy E. Friend, a 52-year-old from Newport News, Virginia, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire or mail fraud. According to court documents, Friend used his Department of Defense (DoD) credentials to defraud the government to the amount of $2.3 million.
Friend, the criminal complaint described, worked for the Department of Defense as the Chief of Logistics and Program Management, Aviation and Missile Command. As part of the government position, Friend held logins for a General Services Administration Advantage (GSA Advantage) account. The government created GSA Advantage to aid in the day-to-day operations of various federal and state organizations. Through the GSA Advantage website, government employees and contractors can use their credentials to orders various products. Federal employees pay for their purchases with an Activity Address Code (AAC/DoDAAC) or a government purchase card. Inherently, purchases from GSA Advantage require government funding.
The defendant, Friend, placed 666 orders with his credentials—all in or about August 2010, to mid-2015. In total, the orders amounted to $2,299,465.00. The court documents revealed that Friend purchased the various items and shipped them to Ft. Eustis, Virginia via a private mail carrier. From there, the defendant and unknown co-conspirators moved the items to different places. Officers located pieces of equipment in Friend’s house and similarly at a business owned by one of the co-conspirators.
The Office of Inspector General, Department of Defense, and FBI conducted the investigation over the course of the one year. Investigators discovered that Friend ordered from GSA Advantage and additionally from US Falcon. The DoD partnered with US Falcon for several years in a row—US Falcon even made the top 100 DoD contractors list in 2011. The company provided the DoD with services varying from cybersecurity training to attack helicopter upgrades. Friend used the contract between US Falcon and the DoD fraudulently obtain $228,685.55 worth of equipment.
Both Friend and the unknown co-conspirators listed the purchased equipment on eBay. They then used “United States mail, private interstate commercial carriers, and electronic transmissions” to transfer the goods to third parties and receive compensation. Often, according to the court documents, Friend told GSA Advantage that he earned the stolen goods for his service at the DoD. And he used a similar tactic when he placed an order through US Falcon; he claimed the products or services “were being procured for Fort Lee.”
Friend received a sentence consisting of three years of probation and restitution of $715,829.40. According to the press release, he previously forfeited $189,206.42 to the appropriate authorities.