Fresno, California - A former government contractor was sentenced to 57 months in prison Monday for his role in carrying out a $3.7 million scheme to defraud at least 35 subcontractors located across the United States.
Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott of the Eastern District of California, Special Agent in Charge David A. House of the Department of Interior Office of Inspector General’s (DOI-OIG) Western Region Office of Investigations, Special Agent in Charge Ray Park of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command’s (Army CID) Major Procurement Fraud Unit, Pacific Fraud Field Office, Special Agent in Charge Sean Ragan of the FBI’s Sacramento Division, Special Agent in Charge Jason Hein of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations’ (Air Force OSI) Office of Procurement Fraud Unit, and Special Agent in Charge Brian Denny of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service’s (DCIS) Western Field Office made the announcement.
Chester L. Neal Jr., 45, of Bourbon Oak, Missouri, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Dale A. Drozd of the Eastern District of California. Judge Drozd also ordered Neal to pay restitution in the amount of $3,734,927.50.
Neal pleaded guilty on Aug. 19, 2019, to one count of mail fraud. According to admissions made in connection with his plea, Neal established and controlled several companies through which he bid on and won at least 105 government contracts to provide goods and services to federal agencies including the Department of Interior, U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force. The contracts required Neal to purchase and transport rock, gravel, and other raw materials to military bases and national parks. After winning these contracts, Neal fraudulently induced subcontractors to perform the required work. But when Neal was paid by the government for his subcontractors’ work, he did not pay his subcontractors. Instead, Neal kept the money and spent it at places like casinos, nightclubs, restaurants and hotels. In total, between July 2008 and December 2017, Neal defrauded his subcontractors out of approximately $3.7 million.
DOI-OIG, Army CID, the FBI, Air Force OSI and DCIS investigated this matter. Trial Attorney Kyle W. Maurer of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Grant B. Rabenn of the Eastern District of California prosecuted the case.