Former Naval Engineer and His Father Charged in Rhode Island in $10 Million Bribery and Kickback Conspiracy
PROVIDENCE, RI—A federal grand jury in Providence returned a 37-count indictment today charging Ralph Mariano, 54, of Arlington, Virginia, a civilian engineer with the U.S. Navy’s Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) in Newport, Rhode Island and Washington D.C.; and his father, Ralph Mariano, Jr., 80, of North Providence, Rhode Island, in connection with an alleged 15-year bribery and fraud conspiracy involving approximately $10 million of U.S. naval funds. The indictment, announced by U.S. Attorney for the District of Rhode Island Peter F. Neronha, charges Ralph Mariano with conspiracy, theft of government funds, extortion, and multiple counts of wire fraud and tax evasion. His father is charged with multiple counts of tax evasion. The indictment alleges that the younger Mariano, together with others—including Anjan Dutta-Gupta, 58, of Roswell, Georgia, founder and president of Advanced Solutions for Tomorrow (ASFT), with offices in Middletown, Rhode Island and Roswell, Georgia; and Russell E. Spencer, 57, of Portsmouth, Rhode Island, a subcontractor—devised a scheme from 1996 through January 2011 in which Navy funds that had been paid to ASFT were funneled back to Mariano in exchange for official acts taken by Mariano. The indictment alleges that Mariano used his position in the Navy to assist ASFT by, among other things, requesting that millions of dollars be added to existing ASFT contracts, directing work to ASFT, and assisting ASFT in becoming a subcontractor on certain Navy contracts. The indictment alleges that the methods of payment to Mariano evolved over time and included payments made directly to Mariano and payments made to Mariano through intermediaries. According to the indictment, Mariano first requested payment from Dutta-Gupta in 1996, after ASFT acquired a company that had an existing Navy contract. The indictment alleges that Dutta-Gupta made a payment to Mariano and then, when Mariano sought additional money, Dutta-Gupta requested that another ASFT employee “take care” of Mariano. That employee, the indictment alleges, proceeded to make payments to Mariano. According to the indictment, in 1999, Mariano became acquainted with Spencer, who proceeded to form three different consulting companies. The indictment alleges that, at the direction of Mariano, Spencer submitted millions of dollars worth of fraudulent invoices to ASFT and companies working with ASFT for work that had largely not been performed. According to the indictment, once Spencer received Navy funds from ASFT, he proceeded to make millions of dollars in payments at the direction of Mariano to various individuals and companies, including Mariano and Mariano, Jr. Co-conspirators Anjan Dutta-Gupta and Russell Spencer previously pleaded guilty for their roles in the bribery and kickback scheme and are awaiting sentencing. In addition, another co-conspirator, Patrick Nagle, 50, of Marietta, Georgia, a senior vice president and director of contracts for ASFT who knowingly made payments on invoices knowing that the work represented on the invoices had largely not been performed, previously pleaded guilty for his role in the bribery and kickback scheme and is awaiting sentencing. An indictment is merely an allegation and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lee H. Vilker, Andrew J. Reich, and Terrence P. Donnelly. The matter was investigated by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Rhode Island and a team of agents from the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, Northeast Field Office; Naval Criminal Investigative Service, Northeast Field Office; FBI; and Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation. Today’s charges are part of efforts underway by President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF). President Obama established the interagency FFETF to wage an aggressive, coordinated, and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch and, with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes.