PENSACOLA — A former federal contracting officer for the 96th Test Wing Maintenance Group at Eglin Air Force Base and a Fort Walton Beach business owner have pleaded guilty in federal court to charges stemming from a kickback scheme that reportedly operated from 2007 until 2014.
The former contracting officer, 53-year-old Jerry T. Vertefeuille of Niceville, and 37-year-old Christopher A. Carter of Fort Walton Beach, owner of TCC Services Unlimited, entered their pleas recently in U.S. District Court in Pensacola. Vertefuille entered his plea on Wednesday, while Carter had entered his plea on June 28, according to a Friday news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Pensacola.
Both men pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit theft of honest services and wire fraud, and also to bribery of a public official. Additionally, Vertefeuille pleaded guilty to obtaining and disclosing procurement information.
According to the news release, Vertefeuille’s duties at Eglin AFB included overseeing maintenance work and the initial approval of purchases and invoices. In 2007, Vertefeuille helped Carter win a paint booth maintenance contract, a contract that was renewed multiple times until 2014.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Vertefeuille received kickbacks in exchange for recommending the repeated renewal of the TCC Services contract, and for approving fraudulent invoices from Carter. Investigators subsequently learned that TCC and another contractor also submitted separate invoices for the same work to the U.S. Air Force.
Vertefeuille and Carter each face a maximum of 20 years in prison on the conspiracy charges. The bribery charges carry a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. Vertefeuille additionally faces a maximum of five years in prison on the charges related to the procurement information.
Sentencing hearings for both men are scheduled for Sept. 26 at the U.S. Courthouse in Pensacola.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations, Air Force Audit Agency and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey M. Tharp.