OAKLAND – Balvinder Singh Chadha was sentenced yesterday to 51 months in prison and ordered to forfeit $6,434,469.19 for committing wire fraud and conspiring to violate the federal conflict of interest statutes, United States Attorney Melinda Haag announced. His wife and co-defendant, Jaspinder Kaur Chadha, was sentenced to three years of probation, including three months of home confinement.
Mr. Chadha, 45, of Union City, Calif., pleaded guilty to wire fraud and conspiracy charges on April 4, 2012. According to the Plea Agreement, he admitted that he was an investor in and served as the de facto head of a company called Golden Pacific Logistics, Inc. (GPL) while employed as Manager of Postal Vehicle Service Operations at a United States Postal Service (USPS) facility in Oakland, Calif. GPL was established for the purpose of obtaining truck leasing contracts with the USPS unit managed by Mr. Chadha. In July 2005, Mr. Chadha endorsed GPL during the procurement process for a USPS truck leasing contract that was ultimately awarded to GPL. During the course of the next four years, GPL billed USPS for trucks that were never leased, mileage that was never incurred, and servicing and maintenance costs that were never authorized under GPL’s contract. Using his USPS position, Mr. Chadha authorized payments to GPL and requested at least 18 modifications of the original contract, which extended the time period of the contract and increased the number of trucks authorized for leasing. All told, GPL billed and received $6,434,469.19, which included at least $4,432,156.82 in fraudulent billing.
Additionally, Mr. Chadha and Mrs. Chadha, who pleaded guilty on March 28, 2012, admitted to conspiring to violate the federal conflict of interest statute, which prohibited Mr. Chadha, as a USPS employee, from willfully participating in a contract in which he and his wife had a financial interest. The Chadhas admitted that they engaged in a variety of measures to conceal Mr. Chadha’s association with GPL and to create the appearance that Mr. Chadha and GPL were engaged in an arm’s length business relationship.
“Our public servants occupy positions of trust. The integrity of our government requires them to consistently act in the public’s interest and to never abuse that trust,” said U.S. Attorney Haag. “Together with our partner agencies, my office will aggressively investigate and prosecute the small minority of public servants who violate the public’s trust and exploit it for their own gain.”
“The vast majority of Postal employees would never think about abusing their positions for personal gain. However, the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General’s Major Fraud Investigations Division aggressively investigates instances like these where the public trust has been violated through fraudulent activity,” said Joanne Yarbrough, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Postal Service Office of Inspector General’s Major Fraud Investigations Division. SAC Yarbrough praised the efforts of her Agents in investigating this matter and the professional manner in which the case was prosecuted by US Attorney’s Office, Northern District of California.
“As this sentence makes clear, there is a steep price to be paid when federal employees misuse their positions and violate the public’s trust for their own personal gain,” said Clark Settles, special agent in charge for Homeland Security Investigations San Francisco. “Such conduct as exhibited by these defendants will not be tolerated and we will continue to work closely with our federal partners to investigate and bring to justice those who engage in such abuses.”
Mr. Chadha was charged in a two-count information filed on March 16, 2012. Count One charged him with committing wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343, and Count Two charged him and co-defendant Jaspinder Singh Chadha, 39, with conspiring to willfully violate the federal conflict of interest statute (18 U.S.C. §§ 208 and 216(a)(2)), in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371. In addition, the information contains a forfeiture allegation against Mr. Chadha in relation to the wire fraud offense. Pursuant to their respective plea agreements, Mr. Chadha pled guilty to both counts and Ms. Chadha pled guilty to Count Two.
The sentence was handed down by U.S. District Court Judge Phyllis J. Hamilton. Judge Hamilton also ordered both defendants to pay the United States Postal Service $4,432,156.82 in restitution. Mr. Chadha, who remains free on bond, was ordered to self-surrender and begin serving his prison sentence on February 1, 2013. Ms. Chadha was placed on probation immediately.
Andrew S. Huang is the Assistant U.S. Attorney who is prosecuting the case with the assistance of legal assistant Vanessa Vargas. The prosecution is the result of a multi-year joint investigation by the United States Postal Service Office of Inspector General and the Asset Identification and Removal Group of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations.