WASHINGTON – An Edgewood business owner could face up to 20 years in prison and $8 million in fines if convicted of defrauding the government, according to an indictment issued Wednesday by a Baltimore grand jury.
American Construction Services Inc. and its sole shareholder, Robert David Leas, were each charged with conspiracy, filing false claims, making false statements to a government agency and obstructing a government audit, according to the indictment released by Lynne A. Battaglia, U.S. attorney for the District of Maryland.
The indictment says the Federal Aviation Administration and the U.S. Army and Navy awarded Leas’ business more than $2.6 million in contracts for work in Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The contracts, awarded between 1992 and 1994, had been set aside for minority- and women-owned companies.
Leas had claimed that his wife, Alicia Major, owned and operated the business. She is part Native American.
But the indictment alleges Major did not take part in the business of the company, which primarily repairs and removes underground tanks.
The indictment also says Leas funneled almost $500,000 in false claims from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers into his wife’s country music career. It alleges Leas filed a claim with the corps for business costs when the money actually paid for child care, a Nashville, Tenn., apartment where Major stayed while performing as a country music singer, and the expenses of promoting her music career.
Leas caused his employees to falsely represent that Major’s child-care provider was a cleaning employee; that Major’s Nashville apartment was used to attract contracts in the Tennessee area; and that Major’s country music promoter was a consultant on the government contracts, the indictment says.
Leas said in a telephone call he did not wish to comment.
His attorney, Paula M. Junghans, could not be reached. Assistant U.S. Attorney Dale Kelberman said dates for a bail hearing and a trial have not yet been set. -30-