LawFuel – Law Newswire – R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Ivan Vikin, Acting Special Agent in Charge, U. S. Environmental Protection Agency – Criminal Investigation Division, Amie R. Tanchak, Resident Agent in Charge, Department of Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS), Southeast Field Office, Ferdinand Vazquez, Resident Agent in Charge, U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division, Major Procurement Fraud Unit, Florida Resident Agency, and Anthony V. Mangione, Special Agent in Charge, U. S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement, Office of Investigations, announced that Gregory C. Wagner, 58, of Miami, Florida, pled guilty today in federal Court in Miami, to a charge of misprision of a felony in May 2005, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 4.
The guilty plea was accepted by U.S. District Court Judge Alan S. Gold, who set sentencing in this matter for January 29, 2009, at 4:30 pm. Defendant Wagner faces up to three years’ imprisonment on the charge, as well as a criminal fine of up to $250,000.
According to the criminal Information filed in this matter and statements made in Court, at all times relevant to the charge, Wagner, a 31-year career employee of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) assigned to the Jacksonville Area Engineer’s Office, was given responsibility as Construction Representative and Construction Inspection Technician administering contracts in South Florida awarded by ACOE. His duties involved direct supervision and oversight of ACOE projects related to Everglades restoration, which is a multi-agency effort to restore and revitalize the Everglades.
As part of its contribution to the restoration effort, ACOE was directly and indirectly involved in the acquisition of land bordering Everglades National Park for conversion from their present uses, including farmland, into restored wetlands and flow-ways.
According to statements made in open court and Wagner’s admission, monetary bribes were given, offered, and promised to Wagner with the intention of inducing him to act in violation of his duties of proper administration of the contracts under his supervision and the lands he was obligated to manage pursuant to his assigned duties. As part of its evidence, the government referenced an encounter this year between Wagner and a cooperating source, which was audio-taped, during which Wagner discussed details of the earlier leasing arrangement and accepted $11,000 in cash for having allowed private parties to farm on ACOE acquired property without legal authority and without disclosing those arrangements to his superiors. After being confronted by federal agents, Wagner resigned his position with the ACOE.
U.S. Attorney Acosta stated, “When public servants break the law and use their official positions to line their own pockets, public confidence in the integrity of our government suffers. The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to prosecuting and removing these bad apples so that public confidence can be restored.”
“EPA is committed to assist in the restoration of the Florida Everglades,” said EPA’s Acting Special Agent in Charge Ivan Vikin. “Public employees who violate their public trust and break the law will be prosecuted.”
Resident Agent in Charge Amie R. Tanchak, of DCIS, added, “The DCIS will aggressively investigate and seek the prosecution of any employee who violates the public trust by abusing their position for financial gain. The DCIS will continue to play a vital role in the ongoing efforts to protect the Department of Defense from internal corruption.”
Resident Agent in Charge Ferdinand Vazquez, of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division, Major Procurement Fraud Unit, stated, “ These are crucial times for all fraud agencies to work together and aggressively address any violations involving corruption of public officials and contractors. The Army CID Major Procurement Fraud Unit is committed to pursuing any and all violations of this nature to help preserve the integrity of the U.S. Army procurement process.”
“ICE plays an integral role in identifying, investigating, and arresting those that have abused their positions of public trust and misused that trust for their personal enrichment,” said Anthony V. Mangione, Special Agent in Charge of ICE’s Office of Investigations in Miami. “ ICE will continue to pursue those who misuse their public positions.”
Mr. Acosta commended the coordinated investigative efforts of the Special Agents of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Defense Criminal Investigative Service, the Department of the Army Criminal Investigation Command, U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement, and officers of Miami-Dade Police Department Environmental Investigations Unit. As well, Acosta commended the Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville Area Engineer’s Office, for their assistance and cooperation in the investigation of this matter.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Thomas Watts-FitzGerald.
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. Related information regarding the investigation and conviction by Environment Canada may be found on www.ec.gc.ca.