ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A former State Department official has pleaded guilty to disclosing confidential bid proposals to help a furniture company executive win a lucrative contract for furniture for a new U.S. embassy abroad.
Patricia DeLaughter, 69, faces up to five years in prison when sentenced on Nov. 8 for her role in the procurement fraud.
According to court documents, from December 2016 to March 2017, DeLaughter and another State Department official knowingly disclosed confidential bid prices and design plans of at least three competitors to Steven Anstine, at the time the vice president of sales for Bernhardt Furniture. Federal prosecutors say the information gave Anstine, 52, a competitive advantage and enabled him and his company to win the contract with a bid of approximately $1.569 million.
DeLaughter, who had a social relationship with Anstine, also admitted to making intentionally false statements to State Department Office of Inspector General special agents investigating her conduct. According to the Department of Justice news release, DeLaughter falsely told agents she had nothing to do with the embassy furniture project. She also told them she did not have a social relationship with Anstine when they had in fact attended dinners, sporting events, and concerts together, where he paid at least a portion of DeLaughter’s expenses.
In June, Anstine pleaded guilty to one count of illegally obtaining contractor bid or proposal information in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina. He also admitted to intentionally making false statements to the special agents investigating the matter. The DOJ news release did not provide a sentencing date.
Anstine faces a maximum sentence of up to five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release, according to The Post and Courier, which said Anstine cooperated with the investigation as part of his plea agreement.
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