CHICAGO - Two U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs employees are facing charges after pocketing cash from vendors in exchange for steering orders for medical equipment, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Illinois.
The indictments state that Andrew Lee, 66, and Kimberly A. Dyson, 49, both of Chicago, both worked as prosthetic clerks in the Veterans Health Administration Prosthetics Service in Chicago. As part of their job, Lee and Dyson selected vendors to order medical equipment for patients, then paid the vendors using government purchase cards. In exchange, Lee and Dyson allegedly received cash payments from people at the vendor companies, according to the indictment.
Lee is charged with one count of wire fraud, and Dyson is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit bribery, and four counts of bribery, according to the release.
The charges state that Lee worked with Darren A. Smith, who operated a medical distribution company in Bolingbrook, to place orders for medical equipment from Smith’s company, in exchange for cash kickbacks to Lee.
The release states that Lee allegedly placed orders with Smith’s company for unnecessary and more costly monthly rentals of certain medical equipment – instead of purchasing the equipment as VA physicians had ordered – so that the VA would pay more money to Smith’s company.
The scheme fraudulently caused the VA to overpay Smith’s company by more than $1.38 million from 2016 to 2020, the release states.
In exchange, Lee pocketed kickbacks from Smith of at least $220,000, according to the indictment. In addition to the wire fraud count against Lee, the indictment charges Smith, 57, of Hazel Crest, with seven counts of wire fraud.
Charges accuse Dyson of conspiring with Irvin R. Lucas, IV, of North Hollywood, California, to place orders for medical equipment from Lucas’s company in exchange for cash payments to Dyson. The indictment describes multiple incidences where Dyson placed orders with Lucas’s company, later texting Lucas, asking for certain amounts of cash.
According to the release, Lucas allegedly paid Dyson by transferring money into her checking account or providing her with a debit card to withdraw the funds.
From 2018 to 2020, Dyson accepted at least $39,850 from Lucas for steering the orders to his company, the indictment states.
In addition to the conspiracy and bribery counts against Dyson, the indictment charges Lucas, 40, with one count of bribery conspiracy.
"Schemes to fraudulently corrupt the procurement process cheat the government and deserving bidders," said U.S. Attorney Lausch. "We will work aggressively with our law enforcement partners to safeguard our nation’s taxpayers."
Lee and Dyson were charged in separate indictments returned Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Chicago, the release states.
"The corruption of VA employees cannot be tolerated," said Acting SAC McClaren. "These alleged fraudulent activities erode public trust and undermine the value of fair market competition. The VA OIG appreciates the US Attorney’s Office for its commitment in helping hold these defendants accountable."
Arraignments in federal court in Chicago have not been scheduled yet.