Crime

Kennewick worker guilty of defrauding government

RICHLAND — Martin Perez pleaded guilty Monday to conspiring to defraud the federal government through purchases made for Hanford work.

He was the sixth of seven people indicted in the spring 2010 for alleged fraud at the Hanford nuclear reservation to plead guilty. In different schemes, credit cards issued to make purchases for Hanford work were used to profit through Hanford workers' family businesses or to buy items directly for personal use.

Perez, 44, admitted to using his job at Kennewick Industrial and Electric to purchase supplies ordered by a Hanford worker through a home business owned by the worker's wife.

Perez agreed to plead guilty to one felony count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in exchange for having 27 counts of wire fraud dropped.

Under the plea agreement, the federal prosecutor is recommending that Perez be sentenced to three months of home monitoring, three years of probation and 240 hours of community service. He also would be required to repay $8,822.

He has no criminal history, he told Judge Rosanna Malouf Peterson in U.S. Eastern Washington District Court in Richland.

The indictment accused Perez of making purchases for Gregory Detloff, a material coordinator at Hanford, through Detloff Industrial from late 2001 through late 2005. Detloff earlier pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

Perez made 280 purchases for Detloff, said Shawn Anderson, assistant U.S. attorney.

Detloff received the markup on goods purchased from Detloff Industrial to fill the orders he made through Kennewick Industrial and Electric, and Perez made a 3.5 percent commission on the sales, according to court documents.

The purchases, which were made for former Hanford contractors Fluor Hanford and CH2M Hill Hanford Group, were paid for with a Hanford credit card, called a purchase, or P-card, at Hanford.

Detloff was not allowed to make purchases with the card from Detloff Industrial.

The purchases started after Perez and Detloff met for lunch in 2001 and agreed to the scheme, according to court documents.

Perez told the judge Monday that Detloff did not tell him at the lunch that the payments were not authorized and that he told his boss at Kennewick Industrial and Electric about the purchases. Although Perez did not know initially that the payments were wrong, he wondered about it and should have known, he said.

The 27 purchases listed in the indictment ranged from $1,195 to $7,303.

* Annette Cary: 509-582-1533; acary@tricityherald.com; More Hanford news at hanfordnews.com.

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