ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A former senior official with the General Services Administration and her husband pleaded guilty today to engaging in a nepotism scheme in which they conspired to fraudulently obtain employment from the U.S. government and private federal contractors.
According to the statement of facts filed with their plea agreements, Helen Renee Ballard, 51, and Robert S. Ballard, 56, both of Brandywine, Maryland, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to make false statements to the United States.
Helen Renee Ballard (aka Renee Ballard) was the Director of the Central Office Contracting Division of the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) from May 2006 to May 2011 and worked for GSA until 2016. From 2010 through July 2014, Renee Ballard and her husband, Robert S. Ballard (aka Steve Ballard), engaged in a scheme to enrich themselves by obtaining employment with federal contractors and the U.S. government through false and misleading statements concerning Steve Ballard’s relation, education, and qualifications. As part of the more than $200,000 scheme, Renee and Steve Ballard fraudulently induced a federal contractor located in Arlington to hire Steve Ballard. The Arlington based contractor then placed Steve Ballard on a federal contract awarded by GSA and supervised by Renee Ballard. Later, Renee Ballard attempted to hire Steve Ballard for a position within GSA under her supervision.
According to the statement of facts, Renee and Steve Ballard caused over 139 false employment applications to be submitted to federal agencies, including the FBI, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, U.S. State Department, U.S. Transportation and Security Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Education, Federal Communications Commission, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Department of Labor, U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and the Internal Revenue Service. These applications falsely misrepresented Steve Ballard’s education and qualifications, including that he had earned or taken classes toward a master’s degree and was certified in government contracting at Levels I, II, and III. In order to corroborate these false representations, Renee and Steve Ballard obtained and submitted fake certification documents. In addition to these fraudulent applications, the Ballards sent Steve Ballard’s false resume to the Executive Office of the President in an attempt to obtain employment there. Subsequently, Steve Ballard submitted false applications to at least six different private contractors who worked, at times on-site, with the federal agencies, including GSA and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
The Ballards each face a maximum penalty of five years in prison sentenced on July 28. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; and Carol Fortine Ochoa, Inspector General, GSA, made the announcement after the plea was accepted by Senior U.S. District Judge Claude M. Hilton. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Uzo Asonye and Katherine Wong are prosecuting the case.