Four sentenced in VA construction fraud scheme

Four sentenced in VA construction fraud scheme

Four men, two with a criminal history of fraud, were recently sentenced by the Justice Department for their roles in a conspiracy to defraud companies working on behalf of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

From roughly March 2015 through December 2015, the men devised a scheme to unlawfully enrich themselves by issuing various performance and payment bonds — a type of insurance required on major construction contracts, according to prosectors. Ultimately, tens of millions in assets were pledged to builders working on large-scale construction projects.

In reality, there were no such assets, only worthless securities that the men referred to as “gold certificates.”

In early December, three of the men pled guilty to a single count of Conspiracy to Commit Mail and Wire Fraud. On Dec. 2, Alexander Robert Xavier, 57, formerly of Boca Raton, Florida, was sentenced to 72 months in federal prison; Timothy “Guy” Castracane, 51, of Saratoga Springs, New York, received a 46-month term; and Henry John Hattendorf, 73, of Las Vegas, Nevada was sentenced to 24 months. Additionally, each man also received three years of supervised release and was ordered to pay over $2.6 million in restitution to victims of the fraud.

A fourth man, Robert Michael Wann, 64, of Rancho Mirage, California, was sentenced to 54 months in prison on Nov. 16 for his role in the conspiracy.

According to a release from the DOJ, Environmental Protection Agency Office of the Inspector General and VA-OIG investigated the case, with assistance from the United States Department of Transportation OIG, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division, in Albany, New York, and The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey OIG.

For Xavier and Wann, attempts to commit fraud are not new. At the time of his sentencing, Xavier was in the midst 150-month sentence for a previous criminal fraud case. Court records do not specify how he was able to participate in the scheme from jail. Prosecutors did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In 2016 a federal jury found Xavier guilty of defrauding at least 18 federal agencies by issuing worthless bonds to insure government construction projects between May 2008 to October 2010.

During this period, according to DOJ, Xavier similarly claimed to be an “individual surety.” At the same time, he and his associates were paid over $4.3 million in fees, all while knowing that he had no such assets to pledge.

According to the LA Times, Wann was arrested in Nov. 1996 with almost $8 million in counterfeit traveler’s checks that he was planning to take to Vietnam and put into circulation. At the time, Wann ran an import-export business in Riverside County, California, which caught the attention of authorities following the use of a counterfeit traveler’s check in a California supermarket.

Following three months of surveillance on Wann in 1996, authorities uncovered an international counterfeit scheme. Officers at the time stated that Wann’s fake checks were passed into circulation via Mexico, ending up in places such as China, Saudi Arabia, and Vietnam.

James R. Webb is a rapid response reporter for Military Times. He served as a US Marine infantryman in Iraq. Additionally, he has worked as a Legislative Assistant in the US Senate and as an embedded photographer in Afghanistan.



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About the Author

Tony Beasley
Tony Beasley writes for the Local News, US and the World Section of ANH.