NEWARK, N.J. – A civilian employee at Picatinny Arsenal today admitted his role in a scheme that traded bribes and other gratuities for favorable treatment on government contracts, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

Joseph Gooch, 60, of Morristown, New Jersey, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge John Vazquez in Newark federal court to an information charging him with accepting or receiving things of value in return for favorable assistance with government contracts and making false claims against the United States.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

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Gooch was assigned as a general engineer and was authorized by the U.S. Army to act as its representative on contracts made with federal contracting companies. As such, he had the authority to evaluate a contracting company’s work and could influence whether additional contracts should be granted.

From January 2006 through December 2017, Gooch conspired with other Picatinny Arsenal employees and employees of a defense contracting firm identified in the information as “Company A” to seek and accept gifts and other items of value, such as Apple products, luxury handbags, Beats headphones, and tickets to a luxury sky box at professional sporting events, valued at least $150,000 to $250,000, in exchange for government contracts and other favorable assistance for Company A at Picatinny Arsenal.

Gooch also conspired with other Picatinny Arsenal and Company A employees to file false bills to the United States that wrote off the cost of the bribes as “materials” needed on the government contracts.

The conspiracy charge to which Gooch pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 11, 2018.

Irene Pombo, a Company A employee, and her daughter, Nicole Pier, another Picatinny Arsenal employee, pleaded guilty to their roles in the conspiracy in March 2018 and await sentencing.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Gregory W. Ehrie in Newark; the U.S. Department of Defense, Defense Criminal Investigative Service, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Leigh-Alistair Barzey; and the U.S. Army, Major Procurement Fraud Unit, Criminal Investigation Command, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge L. Scott Moreland, with the ongoing investigation.