RICHLAND — Four people have pleaded guilty to defrauding the federal government with credit cards issued to make purchases for Hanford work.
All four accepted plea agreements that could reduce their sentences and would require paying back up to $670,500, if an Eastern Washington District federal court judge agree.
That's in addition to an earlier guilty plea by a fifth defendant, Suzie Zuniga, who will have to repay $564,000, if a judge agrees at sentencing. Seven people were indicted this spring for alleged fraud at Hanford.
In different schemes, the Hanford credit cards were used to transfer money to Hanford workers' family businesses or to buy items directly for personal use, including televisions, refrigerators, lawnmowers and gift cards.
The largest restitution among those who pleaded guilty would be paid by Anita Gust, who has pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud. In combination with her husband, Paul Kempf, who has entered a plea of innocent to six counts of wire fraud, she would pay $487,000 in restitution.
Gust was indicted on one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and six counts of wire fraud.
Kempf worked as laboratory operations manager at the Hanford 222-S Laboratory and was issued a Department of Energy credit card to make purchases. From 2000-05, he used the credit card, commonly called a purchase card or P-card, to place more than $487,000 in "ghost" purchases for laboratory supplies from AMG Marketing, according to court documents. AMG Marketing is owned by Gust.
When Kempf was interviewed by agents from the DOE Office of Inspector General, he initially denied knowing Gust, according to court documents. Later he admitted they were married and that Gust operated AMG Marketing out of their home, said court documents.
When Gust was interviewed, she initially said she was divorced from Kempf and did not live with him. However, she later admitted the two were living together and that she knew he should not be making P-card purchases through AMG Marketing.
Gust has admitted that $487,000 was taken, according to court documents. However, she claims that Kempf urged her to participate and that her involvement was minimal.
The prosecution agreed to a sentence at the low end of an unspecified sentencing guideline range. If Gust serves prison time, she plans to ask that it not be at the same time as Kempf so one of them will be available to care for their child.
Gust also agreed to testify in court or before a grand jury, if needed.
Gregory Detloff has pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. He also was indicted on 27 counts of wire fraud and one count of witness tampering.
He was a materials coordinator at Hanford from November 2001 through November 2005 and bought items with a P-card for Fluor Hanford and later CH2M Hill Hanford Group.
He made 280 purchases from salesman Martin Perez of Kennewick Industrial and Electrical Supply, a wholesale distributor, through Detloff Industrial, court documents said.
Perez received a 3.5 percent commission on the sales and Detloff Industrial, a small wholesale supplier, was owned by Detloff's wife and operated out of their home. Many of the orders were for small amounts, but court documents listed 27 orders for around $1,500.
In late 2005, Perez was interviewed by an Office of Inspector General agent and placed a monitored phone call to Detloff. During the call, Detloff discussed a 2001 lunch meeting with Perez when the plan of fraud was agreed to, court documents revealed. Perez has pleaded innocent.
The plea agreement includes three months of work release and repayment of $150,000. Detloff would be required to help with the potential investigation and litigation of P-card fraud.
Tommy Honeycutt has pleaded guilty to five counts of wire fraud and is prepared to pay restitution of $25,000. He was a pipefitter with Fluor Hanford for 24 years and was in a romantic relationship with Suzie Zuniga, according to court documents.
Zuniga was a material coordinator responsible for buying materials for the Hanford Plutonium Finishing Plant with her P-card. She's accused of spending $546,326 under the guise of purchasing supplies for Hanford from around Oct. 1, 2004, to July 1, 2008.
Honeycutt told an investigator he was aware of Zuniga's P-card misuse and also received items bought with her P-card, according to court documents.
When Honeycutt was shopping and saw something he liked, she would buy it for him, court documents said. Some of the items he received included a refrigerator, TV, lawnmower, pressure washer, rototiller, air compressor, iPod, digital camera, numerous power tools, two Honda generators, two Garmin global positioning system radios and Starbucks gift cards, according to court documents.
Pedro Alvarado Jr.
Pedro Alvarado Jr. has pleaded guilty to five counts of wire fraud and would be required to pay restitution of $8,500. He was a driver with Fluor Hanford and an acquaintance of Zuniga who often picked up purchases -- legitimate and otherwise -- made with her P-card, according to court documents.
He told an investigator that he had taken items to her home in Prosser, including a stove, refrigerator, microwave oven and several televisions, according to court documents.
In addition he received items bought with her P-card, including two or three televisions, washer and dryer, laptop computer, refrigerator, stove, lawnmower and a weed eater, said court documents.