A worker with the Department of Veterans Affairs has been arrested in an alleged bribery scheme that federal authorities say targeted a program meant to help disabled veterans, women and other small business owners become successful contractors.
Dwane Nevins, a small business specialist with the VA's Glendale-based Rocky Mountain Office for Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization, and two other men - Robert Revis and Anthony Bueno, both contractors - are facing charges of conspiring to pay and receive bribes in exchange for creating an opportunity to commit a fraud, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Colorado. The defendants also face charges of paying and receiving bribes, or aiding and abetting the payment of bribes.
Nevins additionally is charged with extortion and violations of a conflict of interest statute.
Nevins used his VA position to extort about $10,000 from an undercover FBI agent, according to a federal indictment.
Nevins allegedly told the agent that "this is a business and businessmen need to get paid (…) so I can have my Christmas. You know what I'm saying?"
KUNC contacted the VA, which could not immediately comment on the case or questions about the implications for the community the program is meant to serve in Colorado and several adjoining western states.
Prosecutors allege that Revis and Bueno used a consulting operation to work with Nevins to submit fraudulent bids from service-disabled, veteran-owned small businesses that Nevis would work to approve. Bueno said the three would "own all the dogs on the track," prosecutors allege.
The scheme was concealed, according to prosecutors, through consulting fee kickbacks to Nevins or by requiring payments to Nevins for "sham training classes related to federal contracting."