ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A New Jersey woman was sentenced today to two years in prison for engaging in a bribery and procurement fraud scheme while she served as a contracting officer for the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG).
“The defendant sold out her position by receiving bribe payments in exchange for providing preferential treatment to a contracting firm that received millions of dollars in taxpayer money,” said Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “This case serves as another example of our firm commitment to seeking equal justice under the law and holding accountable government officials who betray their oaths and violate the public’s trust.”
According to court documents, Diane D. Sturgis, 62, of Glassboro, served as a contracting officer for the BBG’s International Broadcast Bureau, Office of Contracts until September 2017. Sturgis, among other things, supervised several contracts awarded to a Virginia information technology and data management firm, including a blanket purchase agreement.
In September 2014, the BBG and the U.S. Department of Defense used the firm’s blanket purchase agreement to issue a task order that subsequently served as a vehicle for procuring millions of dollars in services from the firm. In November 2014, Sturgis and the firm’s owner used the same task order to fill several contracting positions in Sturgis’ office in exchange for initial payments totaling at least $330,000. Sturgis and the firm’s owner agreed that the firm would nominally hire Sturgis’ relative to fill one of these positions in exchange for preferential treatment and the performance of official acts benefitting the firm.
Between December 2014 and June 2015, the firm issued four payments to Sturgis’ relative totaling $30,000. The relative performed no consulting work in exchange for these payments. Instead, Sturgis prepared the periodic consulting reports and accompanying invoices for the relative, and Sturgis instructed the relative to save the periodic reports and invoices on the relative’s computer and then submit the invoices for payment. The firm sought approval for payments from the BBG, which Sturgis authorized and approved.
“When a public official accepts bribes during the government contracting process, it is a betrayal of the U.S. taxpayer and the principle of fairness in government contracting,” said James A. Dawson, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office Criminal Division. “Today’s sentencing is yet another example of the dedication and perseverance of the FBI and our partners to root out corruption and deceit. Sturgis defrauded the U.S. and taxpayers and will be held accountable for her unlawful and duplicitous actions.”
On July 28, 2020, Sturgis pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery and honest services wire fraud. As part of her sentencing today, Sturgis was ordered to pay $45,000 in restitution and a $10,000 fine.
Acting U.S. Attorney Raj Parekh of the Eastern District of Virginia; Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicholas L. McQuaid of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Special Agent in Charge Elisabeth Heller of the U.S. Department of State Office of Inspector General; and Assistant Director in Charge Steven M. D’Antuono of the FBI’s Washington Field Office made the announcement after sentencing by Senior U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady.
The Department of State’s Office of Inspector General and the FBI investigated the case.
Special Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia and Senior Litigation Counsel Edward P. Sullivan of the Public Integrity Section prosecuted the case.
A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:20-cr-158.