Repair Company President Pleads Guilty to Bribery Conspiracy in VRT Case

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.

10 thoughts on “Repair Company President Pleads Guilty to Bribery Conspiracy in VRT Case

  • 2016-04-06 at 6:10 pm

    What is it about transportation and public funds that attracts so many crooks?

    Now, can you Feds move down Rt 7 with a similar amount of scrutiny to the land deals for the Silver Line? How about that no-bid sale of the County’s most valuable property to Raging Wire?

    “maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.” We need to start sentencing these guys on the amount money they steal. “gave McGregor approximately $190,000 in illegal kickback payments” If some low level criminal stole $1k 190 times she’d be in jail for life. But, if you are white collar criminal and steal a big amount, you do some time and then get out. How about a year for every thousand dollars you steal?

  • 2016-04-07 at 7:18 am

    How right you are. This went on for years. By giving up McGregor to the Feds Ahalt got to plea bargain. Maybe they can both share the same cell. Hopefully the Feds start seizing and freezing both of their personal assets that VRT paid for and recoup some money.

  • 2016-04-07 at 7:31 pm

    This is really a shock. Mark was very well respected in the transit community. I worked with him for about a decade on various issues. He was always very responsive to local officials. The loss of federal money in 2012 when Loudoun was no longer U.S. Census-eligible for rural route service (except the Purcellville Connector) ended VRT’s involvement with our local fixed route service. It forced VRT to scale back and I wonder if that had anything to do with this. But if, as the article says, McGregor got $190,000 “in illegal kickback payments,” why is he not facing charges?

  • 2016-04-11 at 12:24 pm

    Mobile Repair was asked to vacate VRT’s building by this past weekend. Too bad this family run and owned business was brought down by the founder. The kids always suffer……if they were innocent.
    Where’s McGregor hiding? Good riddance to these two who conspired for years how they could beat the system. Ahalt knows a lot more than he’s telling. Wonder what McGregor will say. Greed is an evil thing.

  • 2016-04-14 at 12:22 pm

    Beware! Mobile Auto Truck Repair along with owner Thomas Eugene Ahalt has a new location opening soon somewhere in the area. Watch for a new name but the same employees will be working there.
    Has to pay that fine somehow. Maybe he’ll hire “MM” to do oil changes and write invoices.

  • 2016-06-23 at 9:48 am

    Federal Court postings state that Ahalt was sentenced to 12 months probation with electronic monitoring with no fine or jail sentence since he made restitution in the amount of $516,000.00. Seems unusual that both his kids that work at Mobile Repair took part in delivering the kickbacks to MM and weren’t charged as accessories. Another case of having money and staying out of prison.
    Public record folks but no one seems to follow up on this story.

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  • 2016-09-13 at 5:23 pm

    Once again jedgar, I wonder what your role was in setting my husband up in all of this. You know too much about VRT that weren’t even mentioned in all of the press releases. Your envy and hatred continues to shine through! My husband took this bankrupt company and made it into something wonderful. Why would he have thrown it all away? If he had taken ALL that money, then he certainly would have gotten that sentence, now would he? Money buys freedom! Again, I will pray for you that the hatred and envy that you have carried for my husband and for anyone else who always looks at the grass being greener on the other side. I continue to be proud of my husband and the choices he HAD to make!!! I am confident that God is blessing us. For it is an honor to walk the path that Jesus Christ walked to His crucifixion.

    Mark is a good man no matter what anyone thinks when they read what others want you to see.

    Susan Houck-McGregor

    • 2016-10-07 at 10:49 am

      So you’re saying he had to make the choice to take payoffs from Ahalt? It always amazes me how people turn to God after they get caught. If he would have followed Christ and really knew Him before he chose to make the poor choices “he HAD” to make then he wouldn’t be wearing an orange jumpsuit with numbers on it.

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