Friday, August 17, 2007

Oh for the good old days of $500 hammers and $600 toilet seats!

Those 1980’s abuses of the American taxpayer seem downright quaint in comparrison. What were they thinking, marking up the price of the goods themselves? The real profit margin is in fraudulent shipping and handling! (Pikers!)

A South Carolina defense contractor pleaded guilty yesterday to bilking the Pentagon out of $20.5 million over nearly 10 years by adding hundreds of thousands of dollars to the cost of shipping spare parts such as metal washers and lamps. The parts were bound for key military installations, including those in Iraq and Afghanistan. In one instance, in 2006, the government paid C&D Distributors $998,798 in transportation costs for shipping two 19-cent washers. Charlene Corley, 47, co-owner of C&D Distributors, used the money to pay for luxury homes, cars, plastic surgery and jewelry, according to court documents.

"It is a troubling case because the fraud took place during a time of war," said Kevin McDonald, the first assistant U.S. attorney for the District of South Carolina. The $20 million "that could have gone to assist our military was diverted and used in a fraudulent manner for excessive personal enjoyment."

C&D billed the Pentagon for materials and shipping separately, and they received payment on 112 of the fraudulent invoices submitted before the scam was uncovered. Among the abuses of your checkbook and mine was a $445,640 shipping invoice for an elbow pipe that cost less than ten dollars, and six machine screws worth a total of $59.94 were shipped at a cost of $403,436.

But there is even more salacious detail…C&D was owned and operated by twin sisters, and one of them committed suicide last fall after being questioned by investigators. The surviving sister is trying to make sure that most of the blame is shifted to her former womb-mate in an effort to reduce her prison time.

"We do not dispute that we participated and benefited in and from the conspiracy," Harris said. "We have, however, always maintained that her sister was the primary actor in this fraud, the primary beneficiary of this fraud, and unfortunately she is not here to today to assist us in distinguishing their roles in the fraud."

And this, boys and girls, is why we need oversight!