A lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves was sentenced to four years in prison Tuesday and ordered to forfeit $4.4 million for supplying Chinese-made baseball caps and backpacks to the Army Recruiting Command despite passing them off as American-made, according to a Department of Justice release.
Lt. Col. Frederick Burnett, 50, “received millions of dollars under contracts with the Army stating he must supply promotional items for the Recruiting Command that were ‘100 % U.S. MADE,'” according to the release.
In April, Burnett was convicted on three counts of wire fraud for using his company, Lamar International, Inc., to defraud the Defense Department on three contracts, worth $6.2 million combined, between 2005 and 2009.
“U.S. District Judge Sharon L. Blackburn sentenced Burnett and ordered him to serve three years of supervised release following his prison term,” the release read.
Burnett received two contracts for baseball caps and one for backpacks that were to be used as promotional items to be given to Army recruits.
“Burnett certified for all three contracts that he would meet the requirements of the Buy American Act, the Berry Amendment, and federal regulations that require the government to buy domestic products and materials,” the release read.
In 2005, Burnett supplied 209,706 baseball caps and received $1.4 million. In the second contract, the government paid him about $4 million for 590,042 ball caps. In the third contract, Lamar International supplied 146,375 Army Combat Uniform backpacks for $1.1 million.
“Instead of providing American-made products, however, Burnett negotiated and contracted with suppliers directly from China and with American companies who he knew were procuring their products from Chinese manufacturers,” the release read. “He filled orders with Chinese-made products under all three contracts and hid their foreign origins by hiring workers on a cash basis to remove the Chinese labels and repackage the items, which he then sent to the Army Recruiting Command.”
“Securing the defense procurement base from fraud is important to American taxpayers and our national security posture,” U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town said. “Today’s sentence sends a strong message that defrauding the United States carries a stiff penalty. Anyone seeking to lie, cheat or steal from the government will find bed space reserved for them behind bars.”