Former government official charged with allegedly trying to defraud small business owners

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — A Chambersburg, Franklin County man has been indicted on one count of conspiracy to commit violations of the Major Fraud Act.

According to U.S. Attorney Gerard M. Karam, the indictment alleges that between 2003 and 2014, James Coccagana, 67, who was chief of the Engineering and Planning Division in the Public Works Directorate at Letterkenny Army Depot in Chambersburg worked with several anonymous co-conspirators to defeat the rules and purpose of the US Small Business Administration’s 8(a) Business Development Program.

The 8(a) Program, according to the American Small Business Association, requires socially and economically disadvantaged individuals to exercise unconditional control over their own businesses. It also requires these companies to commit to at least 15% of the cost of any contract with their own employees.

When companies meet these criteria, they can enter the 8(a) Program for a period of up to nine years and then bid on contracts reserved for companies in the 8(a) Program. These reserved contracting opportunities are often referred to as “reserve” contracts.

It is alleged that Coccagna directed federal government contracts to certain participants in the 8(a) program, knowing that those companies and their existing employees were not playing any significant role in the performance of the contracts awarded to them.

Information in the release alleges that for more than a decade, Coccagna conspired with three other field construction workers to obtain reserved contracts in Letterkenny awarded to a series of 8(a) Program participants controlled by three unidentified individuals. .

These 8(a) Program participants included a company known as 8(a) Company 1that he was affiliated with another unidentified individual known as a fourth conspirator in the information.

The statement said that beginning in 2007, Coccagna and the four accomplices allegedly began conspiring to obtain “reserved” 8(a) construction contracts at the army depot.

Coccagna allegedly recommended that the Letterkenny recruiting office select 8(a) Company 1 for a series of contracts because he knew of 8(a) Company 1 affiliation with three of his accomplices.

to make it look like 8(a) Company 1 met the 15% self-performance requirement, the co-conspirators allegedly moved the actual on-site workers at the army depot to the 8(a) Company 1 paysheet. The same practice was allegedly carried out with the other unidentified 8(a) program participants from 2003.

It is alleged that Coccagna was aware of this practice and knew that Co-Conspirator 4 and his existing employees were not performing work at the site. It is also alleged that Co-Conspirator 4 was rarely present at Letterkenny Army Depot after an initial meeting with Coccagna and the other unnamed conspirators in 2007, the statement said.

The information in the documents also alleges that Co-Conspirator 1 solicited and Coccagna provided confidential information to Co-Conspirator 1 to help Co-Conspirators 1, 2, 3 and 4 win a $60 million construction contract in 2009.

The total value of the contracts associated with this alleged conspiracy exceeded $100 million.

The case was investigated by the US Department of Defense Office of Inspector General, the Department of Army Criminal Investigation Division, the US Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General, and the Office of the US Small Business Administration Inspector General Assistant US Attorney Ravi Romel Sharma is prosecuting the case.

Leave a Comment