Senior Veterans Affairs Official in Philadelphia Indicted for Soliciting Bribes | USAO-EDPA

PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney William M. McSwain announced that Ralph Johnson, 54, of Kinzers, PA, former Chief of Environmental Management Services at the Corporal Michael J. Cresenz Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) in Philadelphia, PA, was charged by Indictment for soliciting and accepting bribes in connection with contracts and purchase orders at the medical center.

As the Chief of Environmental Management Services, Johnson was responsible for a range of sanitation, waste removal, linen and uniform services for the Philadelphia VAMC, and participated in the solicitation and award of contracts to vendors for those services. According to the Indictment, Johnson is charged with asking for, and receiving, thousands of dollars in cash from two Florida-based companies in return for steering purchase orders and contracts to those companies several times from about July 2018 until August 2019. He is also charged with seeking a $10,000 kickback on an $84,000 contract for tree trimming and removal awarded to one of those vendors, for which Johnson had fraudulently and grossly inflated the estimate of the work to be done and the price for that work under the contract.

“The allegations here are shameful. By giving us their best, we owe our veterans the same in return. As a senior official tasked with maintaining a healthy and safe environment for the care and treatment of our nation’s veterans, Ralph Johnson had a responsibility to do that job with honesty and integrity,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain. “Rather than being concerned about serving our veterans, Johnson was allegedly concerned with serving himself by lining his own pockets at taxpayers’ expense.”

David Spilker, Special Agent in Charge at the Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General (OIG) stated, “VA OIG will vigorously investigate alleged instances when government employees solicit and accept bribes and kickbacks from vendors and contractors who seek to obtain business with the VA. As alleged in the indictment, Johnson’s actions breached the public’s trust, undermined the integrity of VA’s operations, and besmirched the vital work that honest hardworking VA employees do every day in support of our nation’s veterans.” 

If convicted, the defendant faces a possible sentence of 45 years imprisonment, 3 years supervised release, and up to a $750,000 fine.

The case was investigated by the United States Department of Veteran Affairs, Office of Inspector General, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney K.T. Newton.

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