A Navy contractor charged in a multimillion-dollar kickback and bribery scheme pleaded guilty in federal court on Thursday to bribing a public official.
Anjan Dutta-Gupta, of Roswell, Ga., was arrested in February on charges he paid $8 million in bribes over more than a decade to civilian Navy employee Ralph Mariano and to Mariano's family members and associates. In return, prosecutors say, Mariano, of Arlington, Va., increased funding to Navy contracts held by Dutta-Gupta's now-defunct company, Advanced Solutions for Tomorrow.
ASFT, which was based in Roswell but had offices in Rhode Island, also funneled $1.2 million through subcontractors to another company owned by Dutta-Gupta, prosecutors said.
Dutta-Gupta, who left the courtroom in tears, and his attorneys declined to comment after Thursday's hearing in U.S. District Court in Providence. He remains free on bond pending sentencing on Dec. 9.
Prosecutors say the scheme cost the government between $7 million and $20 million.
ASFT held $120 million in Navy contracts when Dutta-Gupta, 58, was arrested on Feb. 6 and laid off all its employees shortly thereafter. One of its former employees sued it in federal court in March, alleging it violated labor laws by failing to give due warning of the layoffs.
On Tuesday, the Navy suspended the contracting authority of the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Newport, where Mariano was employed. Naval officials in Washington said an internal investigation revealed several contracting problems they say enabled the bribery scheme.
Dutta-Gupta, as part of his plea agreement, agreed to cooperate with prosecutors and testify before a grand jury and at any later trials.
Mariano, 52, has been charged but not indicted yet. He remains free on bond, and his attorney has declined to comment on what the plea agreement might mean for him.
Authorities say that around 1996 _ shortly after ASFT acquired a contract to provide technical assistance to the Navy _ Mariano approached Dutta-Gupta and demanded a weekly bribe of $6,000 in exchange for continued Navy funding.
By late 2010, prosecutors say, ASFT was paying about $8,000 a week to Mariano, more than $14,000 to Mariano's family and friends and about $6,500 to the other company owned by Dutta-Gupta.