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Whistle-blower suit claimed Navy kickbacks in 2006

By MICHELLE R. SMITH Published: February 28, 2013

Patrick Nagle, a former executive for ASFT, pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit bribery for signing off on false and inflated invoices that were submitted by subcontractors even though he knew the work had largely not been done. Another man, Russell Spencer, has admitted acting as a middleman for funneling kickbacks to Mariano through a company he owned. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery.

None of the three has been sentenced.

Mariano's father, Ralph Mariano Jr., of North Providence, R.I., and his girlfriend, Mary O'Rourke, a former executive at ASFT, have pleaded not guilty to the federal criminal charges. The younger Mariano and O'Rourke are charged with counts including conspiracy, theft of government property and wire fraud. Mariano Jr., who is in his 80s, is accused of tax evasion.

The whistle-blower suit was first brought in May 2006 by Rekha and Karan Vasudeva, who say they were involved in setting up a Roswell, Ga., company that was used to issue fictitious invoices to ASFT and a company owned by Spencer. It makes a number of other allegations against other people and companies, including about bid-rigging in U.S. Army contracts. An Army spokesman said he could not comment on matters under investigation or on open lawsuits.

While the criminal case accuses Mariano and Dutta-Gupta of wrongdoing back to 1996 and makes similar allegations to the 2006 whistle-blower suit, many of the specific claims in the cases are different.

The whistle-blower lawsuit was later filed in federal court in Rhode Island and amended in 2012 to include additional details based on the criminal case, including adding Spencer and Nagle as defendants. Several other people and companies are also named. The Vasudevas and their lawyers would not comment about the lawsuit.

The 2006 complaint was made in the form of a qui tam lawsuit under the federal False Claims Act, which allows private citizens to sue on the government's behalf. The action was sealed so that those who are named in it are not alerted to any investigation. It was unsealed by a federal judge in Providence in January at the request of prosecutors, who are required to alert defendants to evidence that exists before a criminal trial.

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