The recent guilty plea of a furniture company sales executive provides a timely reminder that contractors continue to engage in procurement shenanigans–and continue to get caught. In such circumstances, crime definitely does not pay.
On June 10, 2019, the Department of Justice announced that Steven Anstine of Overland Park, Kansas, pled guilty in federal District Court in South Carolina to one count of illegally obtaining contractor bid and proposal information in an effort to win a State Department contract to provide furniture to a U.S. embassy abroad.
According to Mr. Anstine’s admissions made in connection with his plea, his company pursued a furniture contract with the State Department for a new embassy under construction abroad in late 2016. Between approximately December 2016 and March 2017, Mr. Anstine knowingly obtained the bid prices and design plans of at least three of his and his company’s competitors from two State Department employees involved in the process of soliciting bids for the procurement of furniture for the new embassy’s offices. The disclosure of this competition sensitive information and resulting competitive advantage allowed Mr. Anstine and his company to win the contract with a bid of approximately $1,569,000.
Mr. Anstine also admitted to making intentionally false statements to agents investigating his conduct. In addition to falsely telling State Department Office of Inspector General special agents that he did not knowingly receive competitor’s bid information from the two State Department employees, he lied about his relationship with one of the State Department employees. More particularly, Mr. Anstine claimed that the State Department employee paid her share of the expenses when they went together to events, restaurants and bars when, in fact, he paid for at least a portion of her expenses when they attended, among other events, a September 2016 concert in Washington, D.C.; a December 2015 ballet performance in Washington, D.C.; and a summer 2015 golf tournament in Gainesville, Virginia.
The plea does not appear to have ended Mr. Anstine’s and his company’s problems, as the State Department’s Office of Inspector General is continuing to investigate the case while Mr. Anstine awaits sentencing.