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Former Army contractor admits to illegally taking gifts worth $490,000

WASHINGTON — A former contractor for the U.S. Army on Thursday admitted to accepting vacations, a luxury car, escorts and cash in return for helping businesses obtain federal contracts worth millions.

In Seon Lim, 48, pleaded guilty in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia to conspiracy to commit bribery and wire fraud, general bribery and tax fraud. Lim, who worked in the United States and South Korea, accepted illegal gifts worth about $490,000, prosecutors said.

Lim said little as U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema read off his offenses, which included taking gifts of $40,000 and a trip to the Philippines in 2007 in exchange for a $330,000 contract with Nova Datacom. He admitted to taking a 2010 Lexus LS 460 in exchange for helping Avenciatech win $3 million in contracts. And he admitted to helping Unisource Enterprise obtain a $1.1 million contract in exchange for a secret 40 percent ownership stake.

Lim's attorney, Michael Nachmanoff, described the government's evidence against his client as "thousands of pages of documents, files and emails," which led to his client's guilty plea.

Federal prosecutors said in court that Lim asked contractors to submit invoices for work they did not do. He also operated under aliases to direct subcontracts.

Lim received bribes in the form of cash for a down payment on a home, golf clubs, female escorts, meals, a cellphone and a free service contract, and family trips, according to the court papers.

Lim faces up to 23 years in prison for all three counts. Seven other counts of corruption were dismissed as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors.

Brinkema noted that Lim's cooperation as a part of the plea deal does not guarantee a lesser sentence. She added that in whitecollar crimes such as Lim's, the court takes general deterrence into account when sentencing.

The District of Columbia's U.S. attorney, Ronald Machen Jr., whose office prosecuted the case along with federal prosecutors in Virginia, said Lim sold out the public trust with his actions and was one of 17 people and one corporation, Nova Datacom, convicted as a part of a crackdown on government corruption.

Under the deal, Lim must also pay a $250,000 fine to the Department of Defense, nearly $125,000 to the IRS and forfeit more than $490,000. He is scheduled for sentencing at 9 a.m. Oct. 17.
 

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