The New Jersey U.S. Attorney's Office recently announced that the President and CEO of a defense contracting firm in Long Island, N.Y., pleaded guilty today to offering a $100,000 bribe to a Department of Defense contracting officer at Fort Monmouth in New Jersey. Thanomsak Hongthong, 57, of Shoreham, N.Y., entered his guilty plea to the bribery count before United States District Judge Anne E. Thompson in Trenton federal court. According to the Information to which Hongthong pleaded guilty, other documents filed in this case, and statements made in court:
On November 18, 2009, Hongthong's company, VDH Precision Machining Corp. (VDH) - a manufacturer of electrical and mechanical component parts located in Bohemia, N.Y. - was awarded a contract worth more than $1.7 million to provide spare parts to the United States Army. This contract was administered by the United States Army's Contracting Center of the Communications and Electronics Command (CECOM) located in Fort Monmouth. CECOM develops, procures and sustains communications and information technologies systems.
Shortly after VDH was awarded this contract, Hongthong contacted the Department of Defense contracting officer at Fort Monmouth who was responsible for the contract. Hongthong told the contracting officer that one of VDH's vendors had increased its price on one of the spare parts VDH was required to provide under the contract, and the contracting officer told Hongthong that there was nothing that the government could do about the situation. Hongthong later called the contracting officer and requested a meeting, which took place at Fort Monmouth on February 5, 2010. At the end of this meeting, Hongthong made a statement to the contracting officer which the contracting officer took as an offer of a bribe. The contracting officer then contacted officials at Fort Monmouth, which began the investigation.
On March 17, 2010, the contracting officer met with Hongthong, at the direction of law enforcement, at a location near Fort Monmouth. During this recorded meeting, Hongthong offered the contracting officer $100,000 if the contracting officer would increase the price of the contract by $430,000. Hongthong also offered the contracting officer $10,000 in cash up front.
In a recorded telephone conversation that took place on March 23, 2010, Hongthong offered the contracting officer $10,000 cash up front, but now asked that the contracting officer increase the overall price of the contract by $800,000. The contracting officer and Hongthong agreed to meet on March 27, 2010, at a rest stop off of the Garden State Parkway. Hongthong agreed to bring the initial $10,000 cash payment to this meeting.
Hongthong also admitted to meeting with the contracting officer at the rest stop on the appointed date. During this meeting, which was recorded by law enforcement, Hongthong gave the contracting officer $10,000 in cash. Hongthong also told the contracting officer that he wanted to meet again to make additional payments.
The maximum potential penalty for bribery of a public official is 15 years in prison and a fine of three times the value of the bribe, or $300,000.