A former government official pled guilty today in Alexandria to bribery charges and conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering. Gerardo Chavez, 46, of Clifton, made a plea agreement and faces maximum penalty of 15 years of imprisonment and a fine of $250,000. He was tried in Federal Court in Alexandria.In a statement of facts filed with his plea agreement, Chavez acknowledged that from August 2003 to August 2007, while serving in Caracas, Venezuela on behalf of the United States government, he steered sole source U.S. government contracts, totaling $2.8 million, to a company in Caracas. The contracts were for the purchase and armoring of 4-wheel drive vehicles to be used by U.S. law enforcement and government personnel throughout the South America and Caribbean region. Chavez received kickbacks totaling $172,000 from the owner of the company, with another $87,000 anticipated from the scheme prior to its being uncovered by U.S. government law enforcement agents.At the time, Chavez was a Supervisory Special Agent and Attaché for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and was later Deputy Assistant Director of International Operations at ICE headquarters in Washington, D.C.
The statement of facts further describes how Chavez abused his position of trust as a government official and laundered the proceeds of his bribery scheme. The money laundering concerned Chavez’s purchase of real property in California, in his brother-in-law’s name, and by purchasing and remodeling his Clifton residence. As part of his plea agreement, Chavez agreed to forfeit his real property, and proceeds from bank accounts and the sale of a personal vehicle.
Sentencing is set for February 13, 2009.