Valdosta Daily Times

Breaking News:

Top News

November 2, 2013

Mastermind of Navy kickbacks gets 10 years

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The mastermind of a 15-year kickback scheme that cost the Navy $18 million was sentenced on Friday to 10 years in prison, a sentence a federal judge said was meant to punish as well as send a message to other government employees.

“The next guy that comes along, who has a job that you had, high-paying job, lots of prestige, but wants to game the system,” U.S. District Judge Mary Lisi said. “That person needs to think twice. Was it all worth it?”

Ralph M. Mariano, 55, pleaded guilty in May to conspiracy, theft of government property and tax evasion charges. He was a civilian employee of the Navy for 29 years, and had risen to be a chief engineer for the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Newport. He is one of six people to plead guilty in the case, and the only government employee to do so.

Mariano apologized in court to his family, friends and former co-workers, calling his actions foolish and stupid. He asked Lisi to consider what he called a “very good career record, even though it is blemished at this time,” and asked her for leniency.

The judge said she would ordinarily take into account Mariano’s statements that he has done good deeds in his life, and that he cares for his elderly parents.

“That rings hollow when I consider the devastation you left in your wake,” she said from the bench. Those included taxpayers, the Navy and more than 100 people who lost their jobs when the Navy contractor he used to carry out his scheme went under.

She pointed out that Mariano’s 82-year-old father is now a convicted felon because he pulled him in to the scheme. She sentenced him to just one month shy of the maximum allowed under sentencing guidelines and ordered him to repay the $18 million stolen from the Navy.

Among the reasons she gave for the stiff sentence was that Mariano has refused to accept responsibility. While he pleaded guilty and apologized in court, he has, since his guilty plea, lodged a series of complaints with the Justice Department of prosecutorial misconduct. In those complaints, which he sent to the judge, he denied the scheme.

U.S. Attorney Peter Neronha would not comment on the complaints other than to say that the assistant U.S. attorneys involved in the case have integrity that is unquestioned.

Mariano was assigned to the Naval Sea Systems Command headquarters in Washington and was living in South Arlington, Va., when he was indicted in 2011.

Prosecutors say his job gave him the ability to authorize or refuse payments to contractors, and he used that power to approve payments to Georgia-based contractor Advanced Solutions for Tomorrow, or ASFT. In return, the now-defunct contractor, which also had an office in Middletown, R.I., funneled kickbacks to him and others.

In court on Friday, prosecutor Lee Vilker said Mariano had received about $5 million of the kickbacks, while his father, brother, sister and girlfriend collected several million more. He spent $100,000 on luxury cigars alone. His lawyer says he is now destitute.

Five other people pleaded guilty in the case, including ASFT founder Anjan Dutta-Gupta; Mariano’s girlfriend, Mary O’Rourke, who was also an ASFT executive; ASFT executive Patrick Nagle, of Marietta, Ga.; ASFT subcontractor Russell Spencer; and Mariano’s father, Ralph Mariano Jr. Mariano’s father was previously sentenced to 2 years of home confinement for tax evasion. The others have are set to be sentenced this month and in December.

Rear Adm. David Duryea, commander of the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, attended the hearing and asked the judge for a stiff sentence for everyone involved. He said after the sentencing that the Naval Undersea Warfare Center had aggressively looked at how it conducted its business and had found no signs of similar schemes. He said they have retrained everyone who is involved in contracts and instituted additional reviews on contracting so a similar scheme won’t happen again.

 

1
Text Only
Top News
  • Heat advisory in effect until 6 p.m.

    A heat advisory is in effect for much of south Georgia until 6 p.m.

    July 28, 2014

  • Free Health Fair slated for August 9th

    A free health fair hosted by the 100 Black Men of Brooks-Grady-and-Thomas Counties, Inc. and sponsored by Archbold Hospital will take place on August 9th  from 8:00am until 12 noon.

    July 28, 2014

  • BtpsXVpIgAEXKB-.jpg Manhunt underway for drivers of stolen dump truck

    This morning, around 8:00 deputies from the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office attempted to stop a dump truck traveling south on I-75.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Kingston’s loss means less clout for Ga.

    For two decades, Rep. Jack Kingston was a congressman who routinely crushed his opponents on election night — winning a new term every other year with vote totals between 63 and 77 percent.

    July 28, 2014

  • IMG_3745.jpeg Gas leak on West Adair

    A gas leak has occured on West Adair Street, between Tombs and Oak Street. The leak began just after 11 a.m.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • salmonella 2 copy.jpg Trial nears for suspects in salmonella case

    Three people accused of scheming to manufacture and ship salmonella-tainted peanuts that killed nine people, sickened more than 700 and prompted one of the largest food recalls in history are set to go to trial this week in south Georgia.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • AP4507280123 copy.jpg Today in History for Monday, July 28, 2014
    Today is Monday, July 28, the 209th day of 2014. There are 156 days left in the year. 
     

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Commercial driver training program expanding

    Department of Driver Services (DDS) Commissioner Rob Mikell announced recently an expansion of the commercial driver training program administered by the Agency’s Regulatory Compliance Division. DDS will now offer a Commercial Driver License (CDL) Instructor Training Class for customers who have applied to be CDL instructors. The session will provide additional guidance as the applicants prepare for the final exam.

    July 28, 2014

  • Tentative deal reached on VA reform

    The chairmen of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs committees have reached a tentative agreement on a plan to fix a veterans’ health program scandalized by long patient wait times and falsified records covering up delays.

    July 27, 2014

  • Heat advisory for much of South Georgia

    A heat advisory is in place for much of South Georgia until 7 p.m.

    July 27, 2014

Top News
Poll

Do you agree with the millage rate increases?

Yes. We need to maintain services
No. Services should have been cut.
     View Results