Two business owners indicted in alleged wire fraud conspiracy

  • Published
  • By Air Force Office of Special Investigations Public Affairs
A federal grand jury has indicted Yogesh K. Patel, age 47, of Gaithersburg, Maryland, and Wesley Burnett, age 54, of Hermosa Beach, California, for conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with a scheme to fraudulently obtain more than $1.8 million in federal government contracts through the use of the Small Business Administration's 8(a) program, designed to assist disadvantaged businesses.

The indictment was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Small Business Administration (SBA) Inspector General Peggy E. Gustafson; Brigadier General Kevin J. Jacobsen, Commander Air Force Office of Special Investigations; and Mary L. Kendall, Deputy Inspector General, Department of the Interior.

Yogesh K. Patel was the owner of United Native Technologies, Inc. ("UNTI"), which, according to its articles of incorporation, was formed to "perform information technology services to federal, state and local government, as well as commercial." In 2005, Patel applied for and was granted certification as a minority or socially disadvantaged owned business under the SBA's 8(a) program. In addition to a broad scope of assistance from SBA, participants in the 8(a) program can receive sole source government contracts that are reserved for minority or socially disadvantaged owned companies.

Wesley Burnett owned Total Barrier Works (TBW), a professional services company specializing in the maintenance and installation of anti-terrorist systems and vehicle control equipment such as security barriers, bollards, gates, uninterrupted power systems (UPS) and all other perimeter security anti-terrorist equipment.

The indictment alleges that Patel and Burnett agreed to use UNTI to bid on 8(a) set aside contracts at federal government installations, including military bases and federal buildings, with Burnett, TBW and individuals at Burnett's direction actually performing the work necessary to fulfill these contracts. Burnett also agreed to pay Patel approximately 4.5% of the total value of any contract awarded to UNTI. As a result, the indictment alleges that between January 2010 and November 2013, UNTI was fraudulently awarded more than $1.8 million in 8(a) set-aside U.S. Government contracts, while the work on the contracts was actually performed by Burnett's company and employees.

Patel and Burnett each face a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for conspiracy to commit wire fraud. No court appearance has 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 SBA Office of Inspector General, U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations and the Department of the Interior, Office of Inspector General for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorney Leo J. Wise, who is prosecuting the case.