VA contractor faces fraud charges in Texas
Kerrville Daily Times, Texas
KERRVILLE, Texas — A Colorado man whose company was under contract to do work for the Veterans Administration in Kerrville was accused of scheming to defraud taxpayers of $2 million.
Jonathan Saunders, a retired Navy veteran indicted this month by a federal grand jury, was accused of lying to win a contract to perform architectural and engineering services for the VA in Kerrville, San Antonio and surrounding areas. He was indicted on six counts of wire fraud and two counts of aggravated identity theft.
According to the indictment, Saunders, president and co-owner of Saunders MEP, falsely claimed his business qualified under the law as a “service disabled veteran owned small business.”
Saunders was honorably discharged from the Navy in 1966 by reason of physical disability; however, the indictment states his disability wasn’t the result of his military service and wasn’t aggravated by his service.
Saunders won the contract after claiming certain people with particular qualifications worked for his firm when they did not and after claiming his firm worked on a specific project when it had not, according to the indictment.
Each count of wire fraud represents an instance when Saunders submitted an invoice for contract work and received funds from the VA.
Saunders MEP was awarded a contract in 2009 totaling $156,490 to help replace four buildings in Kerrville owned by the VA, according to the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
Each of Saunders’ six counts of wire fraud is punishable by 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The two aggravated identify theft charges are each punishable by two years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Possible restitution could total $1.5 million or the profit of the contracts.
Saunders appeared in federal court in San Antonio for his arraignment Wednesday and was freed on a $50,000 bond.