Sheriff's Office vendor charged with conspiracy to commit briber - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Sheriff's Office vendor charged with conspiracy to commit bribery

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FOX 8 received this news release from the U.S. Attorney's office in New Orleans Tuesday afternoon:

RICHARD P. MOLENAAR, III, 47, a resident of Las Cruces, New Mexico, was charged today in a one-count bill of information with conspiracy to commit bribery, announced U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente.

According to court records, MOLENAAR was the owner of several maintenance/ construction companies, including Ricky's A/C, Inc., Landmark Mechanical Contractors, LLC, and Custom Carpentry Renovations, LLC. From in or around 2008 through in or around 2011, MOLENAAR used these companies to bid on maintenance jobs at the Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office ("OPSO"). MOLENAAR's primary point of contact at the OPSO was its former Director of Purchasing, John Sens. According to the bill of information, MOLENAAR, among others, including Sens, engaged in a rigged bidding process for various OPSO maintenance jobs. In particular, from 2007 through 2011, MOLENAAR, among others, would submit bids for OPSO work in the names of his respective companies but, with the knowledge and participation of, among others, Sens, he would also submit phony or fake bids for these same projects in the names of other local companies, in an effort to give the appearance of a competitive bidding process. In many cases, the phony bids would intentionally be higher than the bids from MOLENAAR and, consequently, Sens would award the work to MOLENAAR.

In exchange for this rigged bidding process, according to court documents, MOLENAAR provided Sens with various things of value. For example, from 2007 through 2011, MOLENAAR provided approximately $30,000 in cash to Sens, as well as the digging and installation of a pool at a residence owned by Sens, at no cost to him.

If convicted, MOLENAAR faces a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment, 3 years supervised release, a $250,000 fine, and a $100 special assessment.

U.S. Attorney Boente reiterated that a Bill of Information is merely a charge and that the guilt of the defendant must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

The case is being investigated by special agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorneys Matt Chester and Jon Maestri.

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