Three Marines with NC links indicted in fraud case involving president's helicopter | News

Three Marines with NC links indicted in fraud case involving president's helicopter

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One active Marine and two retired Marines with ties to Camp Lejeune, N.C., have been indicted by a federal grand jury for defrauding the government in an effort to win a contract to service Marine Helicopter Squadron One, which is tasked with transporting the president and vice president of the United States.

The indictment alleges that Chief Warrant Officer Craig Kolhagen, who had been the squadron's contracts representative, leaked confidential information regarding the cost of a proposed contract for helicopter maintenance to two former Marines who ran Valour LLC Leading Edge Solutions, a Louisiana-based defense contractor that specializes in aircraft and helicopter repair. Dennis Pennington is the CEO of Valour, and James Bowling is the president; both men retired as senior non-commission officers for the Marine Corps, where they had served as helicopter mechanics. 

The indictment alleges that Pennington and Bowling unlawfully colluded with Kolhagen to artificially inflate the cost estimate of the bid proposal, and to draft the proposed contract's statement of work and technical requirements in a way to favor Valour over the other potential bidders.

"It was further part of the conspiracy that Bowling and Pennington, armed with insider information provided to them by Kolhagen, instructed Kohagen on how to tailor a bid proposal for helicopter maintenance in such a way to unlawfully rig the process in Valour's favor," the 17-page indictment stated.

Yesterday Thomas Walker, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, charged Kolhagen, Pennington and Bowling with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, major fraud against the government and procurement fraud.

"This investigation highlights the unwavering determination of the Department of Justice to root out corruption in the military contracting process and to safeguard taxpayer dollars," Walker said in a statement. 

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