Mark Adams, 43, a former deputy director at a private USAID contractor, and his wife, Latasha Bell, 36, have been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges that they acquired more than $1 million from a program meant to address global health problems such as HIV/AIDS. Among other things, Adams and Bell are accused in the indictment of using the money to renovate their home and purchase two luxury cars worth over $110,000.

The U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, is an independent government agency that lends support mostly to developing countries in order to assist with economic growth, global health and other development relief. According to the forty-page indictment, USAID contracted with an unidentified outside company to perform analysis and information management services. Adams served with the company as the deputy director and project manager on the contract.

The 23-count indictment was filed April 10, 2012 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. It includes one count of conspiracy, ten counts of wire fraud, two counts of mail fraud, seven counts of theft from a program receiving federal funds, one count of conspiracy to launder money, and two counts of aggravated identity theft. Both individuals pleaded not guilty to the charges at their arraignments on April 11, 2012.

Adams has been accused of using his position as deputy director to submit and approve false and fraudulent invoices worth more than $1 million between 2005 and 2010. The alleged invoices claimed to bill for services purportedly provided by Bell and companies controlled by Adams’s two friends, an unidentified co-conspirator and co-conspirator Everett Lipscomb Jr. The alleged scheme caused the USAID contractor to pay the invoices for services not rendered.

The indictment indicates that the unidentified co-conspirator provided testimony to the grand jury. Further, the press release issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for D.C. reveals that Lipscomb pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud on March 2, 2012. The tedious detail provided in the indictment, and the fact that the indictment against Adams and Bell came several weeks after Lipscomb’s plea, indicates that the entire case against them is based on the statements and information provided by the co-conspirators.

The co-conspirators, who are childhood friends of Adams’, have managed to push a majority of the blame on Adams and Bell while receiving only minimal charges against themselves. It is unclear what, if any, charges have been brought against the unidentified co-conspirator, but Lipscomb’s plea reflects the favorable treatment he received for turning against Adams and Bell.

The author of this blog is Erich Ferrari, an attorney specializing in Federal Criminal Defense matters. If you have any questions please contact him at 202-280-6370 or ferrari@ferrari-legal.com.

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