Four months after federal investigators raided the Virginia Regional Transit headquarters in Purcellville, the U.S. Department of Justice today announced a guilty plea in the case.
Thomas Eugene Ahalt, 71, of Berryville, pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiracy to commit bribery concerning federal program funds for his role in a bribery scheme that caused over $500,000 in losses to the U.S. government.
Ahalt was president of Mobile Auto Truck Repair in Purcellville. The company provided repair services to VRT, which is funded by a combination of federal, state and local grants, including from the U.S. Department of Transportation.
According to the plea agreement, Ahalt participated in two fraud schemes from January 2007 through December 2015.
In the first scheme, Ahalt and Mark McGregor, who was then VRT’s CEO, agreed Mobile Auto would submit—and VRT would approve—false invoices for certain labor charges. In exchange, Ahalt would make bi-weekly kickback payments to McGregor totaling half of the additional labor charges.
Accordingly, between 2007 and 2015, McGregor allegedly approved and VRT paid to Mobile Auto approximately $380,000 in fraudulent additional labor charges. During the same period, Ahalt gave McGregor approximately $190,000 in illegal kickback payments.
McGregor, identified only as “M.M.” in the agreement, has since resigned from his post. U.S Attorneys Office spokesman Joshua Steve said there are no charges against any other individuals at this time.
In addition to the kickback payment scheme, Ahalt also regularly caused Mobile Auto to submit false invoices to VRT for parts and labor associated with maintaining VRT vehicles. Ahalt, for example, frequently added fictitious entries to invoices for repairs that had not occurred and for parts that had not been installed. Mobile Auto submitted at least $136,000 in false invoices to VRT between 2012 and 2015. VRT subsequently paid these false invoices using, in part, federal funds from the U.S. Department of Transportation, according to the plea agreement.
Ahalt faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine when sentenced on June 21.