US Attorney Reports PBSJ Corporation Employee Pleads Guilty

LAWFUEL – The Legal Newswire – R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Jonathan I. Solomon, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Division, announced that defendant Richard A. Wickett pled guilty to violations resulting from a long-term scheme to violate campaign finance laws during his employment with PBSJ Corp. Sentencing has been scheduled for January 18, 2008 at 1:30 p.m. before U.S. District Court Judge Ursula Ungaro-Benages.

Wickett pled guilty to charges regarding unlawfully disguised and reimbursed contributions to federal candidates and various candidates for state office. According to statements made in open court, these illegal contributions ranged from between $201,000 to $400,000, resulting in a sentencing guideline range of 18-24 months under the laws in effect at the time these crimes were committed (preceding the McCain-Feingold Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act of 2002). Specifically, Wickett pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371, and one count of conspiracy to cause the filing of false statements with the Federal Election Commission (FEC), in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371.

According to the charging documents, from the early 1990’s through 2003, Wickett and Dye conspired to violate campaign finance laws through various means. Federal law requires accurate disclosure of contributions to candidates for federal office and their principle campaign committees. The defendants caused certain PBSJ employees to claim false expenses for mileage in order to reimburse them for donations to candidates. They created a bank account for PBSJ with checks that omitted the corporate name and address in order to conceal the use of corporate funds donated to candidates. They used corporate checks from a PBSJ subsidiary to reimburse campaign donations, and used employee bonuses as a means to fund campaign donations.

Mr. Acosta commended the investigative efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Karen Rochlin and Matthew Axelrod.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.