NEWARK, NJ – A mother and daughter team from Sussex County have admitted to a bribery scheme regarding government contracts at Picatinny Arsenal according to U.S. Attorney’s office. Irene Pombo, 68, of Hamburg and her daughter Nicole Pier, 38, of Byram pled guilty on March 20 in Newark federal court before U.S. District Judge John Vasquez.
They have been charged with conspiracy to exchange a variety of gifts valued from $150,000 to $250,000 to “obtain or retain contracts and other favorable assistance,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.
Pombo was identified in court documents as having been an employee of “Company A” a defense contracting firm working with the Department of Defense. Pier was identified as a civilian employee.
The investigation uncovered the scheme that stretched from January of 2006 through December 2017. Pombo admitted having filed false bills to the U.S. government hiding the costs of the bribes as “materials” on government contracts, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.
Pombo and other Company A employees gave gifts to several employees of Picatinny Arsenal including Apple products, luxury handbags, Beats headphones and tickets to a luxury sky box at professional sporting events, the U.S. Attorney’s office said.
The duo is scheduled to be sentenced June 19, 2018. The conspiracy charges carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gain or loss from the offence.
The announcement of Pombo and Pier’s pleas comes almost exactly one year after a similar case regarding a bribery scheme at the arsenal.
Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania man Kevin Leondi, 56 pled not guilty to charges of knowingly and intentionally conspiring to defraud the U.S. government by demanding and accepting bribes between December 2010 and August 2015, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.
Leondi worked for the U.S. Army Tank Automobile and Armaments Command – U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering as a contract specialist representing the Army as a liaison between the contractors and the Army, according to U.S. Attorney documents. Leondi worked at Picatinny and Joint Base McGuire-Dix Lakehurst.
According to the charges, Leondi had demanded and received cash, ordered unnecessary equipment for the Army, as well as a truck at a significantly reduced price for his personal use. Leondi is also charged with disguising bribes by inflating the cost of equipment from the contractors.
Leondi had the contractors perform construction work on his home for free. Leondi also directed work be done on another contract manager’s home in Pennsylvania who also got approximately $50,000 in kickbacks to help pay his mortgage.
Leondi was indicted in December 2017. Two contractors related to the case, George Grassie and James Conway had pled guilty for their role in the conspiracy.
Grassie, a subcontractor for construction, excavation and landscaping at Picatinny Arsenal admitted paying kickbacks to Conway and manager Shawn Fuller. Additionally, Grassie admitted paying bribes to obtain and retain contracts at the base.
Conway’s guilty plea covered charges of accepting kickbacks and a wire fraud charge, according to documents from the U.S. Attorney’s office.
They face maximum penalty of five years in prison for the bribery charges, 10 years in prison for the obstruction of justice charge and a maximum fine of $25,000.
In the Leondi matter, acting U.S. Attorney Fitzpatrick credited special agents with the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher; the U.S. Department of Defense, Defense Criminal Investigative Service, under the direction Special Agent in Charge Leigh-Alistair Barzey, Northeast Field Office; and the U.S. Army, Major Procurement Fraud Unit, Criminal Investigation Command, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Larry Scott Moreland.
The government is represented by Senior Litigation Counsel Leslie Faye Schwartz, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Special Prosecutions Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Barbara Llanes, Chief of the General Crimes Unit, in Newark.
In the Pombo and Pier matter, U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Bradley W. Cohen 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.
The government is represented by Senior Litigation Counsel Margaret Ann Mahoney of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s National Security Unit in Newark