A businessman in Parkville, Missouri, has pleaded guilty to taking part in a $335m scheme to defraud federal programmes that award contracts to businesses owned by minorities and veterans of the US military.
Patrick Michael Dingle, 50, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire and major programme fraud, and in a separate case, to one count of filing a false tax return. Another man, Matthew C McPherson, 45, of Olathe, Kansas, pleaded guilty to fraud on 3 June 2019 and awaits sentencing.
Dingle was the operations manager for Zieson Construction Company, located in north Kansas City. Dingle and his co-conspirators controlled and operated Zieson, which was formed in 2009 with Stephon Ziegler – an African-American service-disabled veteran – as the nominal owner.
Zieson’s primary business was obtaining federal construction contracts set aside for businesses owned and controlled by service-disabled veterans or certified minorities.
But while Ziegler signed Zieson cheques and contract bids, and served as cheque courier, he did not participate in any way in the management and control of either day-to-day operations or long-term decision-making for Zieson. Instead, Dingle and his co-conspirators controlled and operated Zieson, and received most of its profits.
Zieson won some 199 federal set-aside contracts worth $335m between 2009 and 2018. Several were valued in excess of $1m, including a contract at Topeka, awarded in 2012, valued at more than $4.1m.
Dingle, McPherson and others submitted false and fraudulent past performance questionnaires in support of Zieson bids for set aside contracts.
Dingle also pleaded guilty to filing false tax returns between 2013 to 2016, which resulted in a total loss to the government of $615,847. Under the terms of today’s plea agreement, Dingle must pay restitution to the government in the total amount of federal tax loss as determined by the court at sentencing.
Under federal statutes, Dingle is subject to a sentence of up to eight years in federal prison without parole. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a pre-sentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.
Image ©GCR, illustration by Denis Carrier