Former congressional candidate Shane Fast has been indicted in federal court for allegedly paying $40,000 in kickbacks to Hanford employees purchasing goods for the federal nuclear reservation.
In addition, his nephew has been indicted after being accused of participating in the alleged scheme.
And in an unrelated case, a former worker at the Hanford tank farms has been indicted for conspiracy to defraud the government after being accused of claiming overtime he did not work. He is the second former Hanford tank farm worker known to be indicted for the alleged conspiracy.
Fast owned Fast Pipe and Supply in Pasco, a subcontractor for Fluor Hanford, a previous Hanford prime contractor. He has been indicted on one count of conspiracy to violate the anti-kickback act, seven counts of violating the anti-kickback act and one count of mail fraud.
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Between Nov. 3, 2005, and Oct. 10, 2008, Fast paid about $40,000 in kickbacks to 14 material coordinators employed by Fluor in exchange for business with Fast Pipe, according to the indictment filed in U.S. District Court.
In return for the kickbacks, Fast Pipe received more than $3.9 million in orders paid for with federal credit cards, called purchase cards or P-cards at Hanford, the indictment alleged. The kickbacks inflated the cost of the purchases, the indictment said.
Fast is accused of signing checks for as much as $500 to one material coordinator, giving an airline ticket worth about $600 to another and giving Seattle Seahawks tickets to others. In addition, gift cards also were given to Hanford employees in charge of making purchases, the indictment said.
In the case of the airline ticket, given to a material coordinator about July 20, 2007, the material coordinator bought about $5,300 worth of materials that month from Fast Pipe, the indictment said.
In another example, on about Jan. 22, 2008, Fast gave a different material coordinator a $100 Macy's gift card and $1,004 worth of Seattle Seahawks tickets, and that month the material coordinator bought almost $27,000 in materials from Fast Pipe, the indictment said.
Fast, an unsuccessful Republican challenger to Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., in the 2010 primary, said earlier that he offered tickets to Seattle games and gift cards to his best customers, which he thought was OK. In some cases they called and asked for tickets, he said.
The indictment accuses Fast and his nephew, Skyler Hamm, a Fast Pipe delivery driver, of attempting to cover up the gifts by telling federal investigators that the material coordinators paid Fast for them.
"In fact, Fast routinely refused to accept any payment offered by material coordinators," the indictment said.
Hamm advised the material coordinators to tell officials they had refused kickbacks, sent them back to Fast or paid cash for them, according to the indictment.
The mail fraud indictment against Fast is for allegedly using the U.S. Postal Service to deliver Seahawks tickets to one material coordinator.
In June, Fluor Hanford agreed to pay the federal government $4 million to resolve allegations it knowingly submitted false claims and paid and received kickbacks, according to the Department of Justice. Fluor denied it knowingly participated in the schemes, but agreed to settle, saying that the interests of the government and taxpayers would be served best by resolving the issue as quickly as possible.
In addition, three purchasing agents who worked for Fluor Hanford were sued this fall by the federal government for allegedly accepting gift cards and game tickets from Fast Pipe.
In the unrelated case for alleged timecard fraud, Christian Davel Careaga was indicted on one count of conspiracy to defraud the government.
He is accused in federal court of participating in a conspiracy among tank farm workers to claim more overtime hours than worked while employed by the former tank farm contractor CH2M Hill Hanford Group as a health physics technician between 2004 and Nov. 19, 2008. The tank farms store 56 million gallons of radioactive waste in underground tanks in central Hanford.
He also conspired to cover up false time cards, causing the Department of Energy to pay for time not worked, the indictment said.
Around May 2008 Careaga's supervisor received an anonymous text requesting he have workers assigned to overtime that evening return to work or face disciplinary actions, the indictment said. The supervisor, who was not named in court documents, verified that workers were not at Hanford and then contacted them and told them to claim only the time they actually worked, the indictment said.
The supervisor did not discipline any of the employees and after May 2008 approved time cards of Careaga and others known to be false, according to the indictment.
This fall, another former tank farm worker, Carl Schroeder, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to turn in false time cards. As part of a plea agreement he agreed to continue to assist in the investigation of the time card conspiracy.
* More Hanford news at hanfordnews.com.