Man gets probation, fine for concealing Hanford kickbacks

By Annette Cary, Tri-City HeraldMay 9, 2013 

An employee of a former Hanford supplier was sentenced in federal court Thursday to three years probation and a $500 fine for concealing and failing to report kickbacks given to Hanford purchasers.

Skyler Hamm already is serving a prison sentence after pleading guilty in November in Benton County Superior Court to two counts of delivering heroin. The cases are not related.

Hamm worked for his uncle, Shane Fast, who is accused of providing about $40,000 in kickbacks and gratuities to Fluor Hanford purchasers through Fast Pipe and Supply from December 2006 through October 2008.

Hamm was charged in late 2011 in federal court with conspiracy to violate the Anti-Kickback Act, which carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. However, in a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney's Office of the Eastern District of Washington, he pleaded guilty to covering up a felony.

The sentencing guidelines that apply in the case are imprisonment for zero to six months, his attorney, Todd Harm, said in court documents.

Hamm has limited means to pay a fine, is indigent, and will have limited employment opportunities when he is released from prison on the drug charges because of his new criminal history, documents said.

Hamm has struggled with drug abuse, but his family has been trying to help, including Fast, who gave him a job, documents said.

Fast, who has pleaded guilty to violating the anti-kickback law, owned Fast Pipe and gave gifts -- including tickets to professional sporting events and restaurant gift cards -- to Hanford purchasers.

Fast has said he does not believe he did anything wrong and that he thought it was OK to offer tickets and gift cards to his best customers.

Hamm knew that an investigation into kickbacks was underway when he was contacted by a Fluor Hanford purchaser who had agreed to conduct a monitored phone conversation with Hamm, documents said. The purchaser asked Hamm if his uncle would back his story if the purchaser lied to investigators and said he paid for the tickets.

Fast has indicated in court documents that he cooperated in the investigation into kickbacks.

But Hamm, who was grateful to Fast, saw what looked like an opportunity to preserve his uncle's standing with contractors he relied on for purchases, according to Hamm's attorney. Hamm told the purchaser that he could tell the investigators that he paid for the tickets.

"Skyler Hamm committed this crime out of a sense of loyalty to his uncle," Hamm's attorney wrote in court documents. "He was not motivated by any personal gain. This was a unique set of circumstances and is unlikely to occur in the future."

In related cases, several Hanford purchasers have reached settlement agreements with the federal government, agreeing to pay amounts that generally range between $10,000 and $15,300.

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