An Omaha contractor has pleaded guilty in a fraud case in the wake of a federal grand jury investigation. The plea has been entered by Ram Hingorani in what investigators believe was a wide ranging scheme.
In addition, one of Hingorani’s companies, Midwest Paving, Inc. pleaded guilty to Money Laundering in the case.
MPI is a U.S. General Services Administration, Department of Defense, and Department of Veteran Affairs contractor.
The admissions of guilt by Hingorani follow guilty pleas entered by Midwest Contracting, Inc.
On May 22, 2013, a federal grand jury issued a 32-count indictment charging Hingorani, business partner Ronald Waugh, MCI and MPI, in connection with a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business fraud scheme involving roughly $23.5 million.
The charges included multiple counts of major fraud, wire fraud, money laundering and conspiracy.
Additionally, agents seized approximately $3.9 million from 14 separate financial accounts.
Investigators say that beginning in May of 2007 and continuing through August of 2010, MCI unlawfully received 45 set-aside and/or sole-source contracts from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and U.S. Department of Defense to include contracts involving American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds.
The investigation revealed MCI was a pass-through and/or front company for Hingorani’s other businesses and that Waugh was simply a figurehead or “rent-a-vet,” who was being used for his Service-Disable Veteran status.
Authorities say evidence shows that the non-veteran Hingorani controlled MCI and certified the company’s Service-Disable Veteran status through the General Service Administration’s Central Contractor Registration and Online Representations and Certifications Application databases.
As a result of falsely certifying MCI’s status, MCI received 45 federal contracts that would have otherwise been awarded to legitimate Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business Concerns.
The United States has agreed to dismiss all charges against Ronald Waugh, the service disabled veteran utilized by Hingorani to perpetrate the fraud scheme.
As a result of his plea agreement, Hingorani faces a prison term of up to 24 months and forfeiture of the profits obtained as a result of the fraud scheme. The amount of forfeiture will be determined by the District Court following a sentencing hearing which will be scheduled at a later date.
In addition, Hingorani, MCI and MPI are currently suspended and face administrative debarment from obtaining future government contracts.