BALTIMORE, MD–A federal grand jury has indicted Richard Louis Wright III, age 46, Kimberly A. Parnell, age 43, and Shane Anderson, age 37, all of Baltimore; and Ladena D. Sketers-Anderson, age 47, of Randallstown, Maryland, on charges related to a bribery conspiracy to obtain contracts with the U.S. Postal Service. The indictment was returned on April 30, 2014.
The indictment was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein, Special Agent in Charge Paul Bowman of the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General, and Special Agent in Charge Stephen E. Vogt of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
“The indictment alleges that two post office station managers accepted bribes in return for contracts for landscaping, snow removal, and cleaning services,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. “Officials who exercise governmental authority are obligated to use it for the public good and not to advance their own financial interests.”
Beginning in January 2007, Wright was the United States Postal Service (USPS) Station Manager of the Waverly Station in Baltimore, and beginning in July 2010, Parnell was the USPS Station Manager of the Pikesville Station in Pikesville, Maryland. As part of their official duties as USPS Station Managers, Wright and Parnell had the authority to contract for landscaping, snow removal, and certain cleaning services at the post offices they managed, and to submit invoices for those services to USPS for payment. According to the indictment, Wright and Parnell knew one another professionally and personally and consulted with one another on the operations of their respective stations, including referring contractors to one another.
The 29-count indictment alleges that beginning in October 2007 and continuing until approximately October 2013, Wright and Parnell engaged in a scheme to commit bribery, wire fraud, and mail fraud by creating, approving, and submitting false and inflated invoices for maintenance work allegedly performed at their respective post offices by Anderson, Sketers, and others, and then splitting the proceeds with the alleged providers of the services.
According to the indictment, in the spring of 2013, when one of their co-conspirators failed to make timely bribe payments to Wright and Parnell, Parnell proposed that they replace the co-conspirator with Shane Anderson, who operated a landscaping company in Baltimore called Youthful Minds Lawn Care, and whom they believed would make bribe payments to them in exchange for USPS contracts. Thereafter, Parnell, Wright, and Anderson agreed that Parnell and Wright would submit false and inflated invoices from Youthful Minds Lawn Care for landscaping services in exchange for a percentage of the proceeds paid to Youthful Minds by the USPS.
Ladena Delore Sketers-Anderson (aka Ladena Sketers) operated a cleaning company called Keep U Clean Janitorial Services, LLC in Randallstown, Maryland. Wright and Sketers had been business partners in a janitorial services company before Sketers went into business as Keep U Clean. Wright used Sketers’ company for cleaning services at the Waverly Station and recommended Keep U Clean to Parnell at the Pikesville Station. The indictment alleges that Wright submitted false and inflated invoices from Keep U Clean in exchange for Sketers paying him a percentage of the funds she received from the USPS. Later, Wright began submitting Keep U Clean invoices to the USPS for cleaning work done by employees at his direction at the Waverly Station, even though he had been directly instructed not to perform contract work at the station he managed. According to the indictment, Wright also proposed to Parnell that Keep U Clean employees under his direction perform cleaning services at the Pikesville Station in exchange for a bribe payment to Parnell and Parnell agreed to that arrangement.
Finally, the indictment seeks forfeiture of any proceeds obtained directly or indirectly, as the result of the scheme, including: $591,791 for Wright; $50,470 for Parnell; $30,455 for Anderson; and $109,976 for Sketers-Anderson.
The defendants face a maximum sentence of five years in prison for the conspiracy and 15 years in prison for each count of bribery. No court appearances have been scheduled for the defendants.
An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.
The National Procurement Fraud Task Force was formed in October 2006 to promote the early detection, identification, prevention and prosecution of procurement fraud associated with the increase in government contracting activity for national security and other government programs. The Procurement Fraud Task Force includes the United States Attorneys’ Offices, the FBI, the U.S. Inspectors General community, and a number of other federal law enforcement agencies. This case, as well as other cases brought by members of the task force, demonstrates the Department of Justice’s commitment to helping ensure the integrity of the government procurement process.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the USPS-Office of Inspector General and FBI for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorney Leo J. Wise, who is prosecuting the case.