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Federal Prison Sentences Handed Down to Robert “Bob” Jones and Patrick Woods in El Paso Corruption Investigation

U.S. Attorney’s Office February 17, 2011
  • Western District of Texas (210) 384-7100

United States Attorney John E. Murphy announced that in El Paso this morning, 65-year-old Robert Edward Jones, former CEO and president of the National Center for the Employment of the Disabled (NCED), was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for embezzling millions of dollars in government program funds and conspiring with others to deprive the community of the right to honest services of elected officials. United States District Judge Frank Montalvo also ordered that Jones pay a total of $68,406,056.07 in restitution to the victims of his criminal conduct and be placed under supervised release for a total period of five years after completing his prison term.

By pleading guilty to federal charges on July 2, 2009, Jones admitted that during a three-year period beginning in June 2003, he schemed to steal or embezzle money from NCED, an organization that received at least $10,000 in federal government program money in each year charged and, without authorization of the NCED Board of Directors, directed the money for his use or others. Jones also admitted that from November 22, 2003, until March 6, 2006, he conspired to make false statements and defraud the United States by lying to the Committee for Purchase from the Blind and Severely Disabled, falsely claiming NCED was in compliance with the Javits-Wagner-O’Day Act (JWOD). By doing so, Jones fraudulently secured no-bid contracts from government agencies—contracts which are set aside for not-for-profit organizations who employ blind or other severely handicapped individuals to perform at least 75 percent of the work on the government contracts. According to the superseding indictment in this case, NCED did not employ sufficient numbers of blind or severely disabled workers to qualify for JWOD contracts. Furthermore, Jones admitted that in 2003, he submitted false information to a financial institution in order to secure a $975,000 mechanic’s lien on his new home and that he aided and abetted in the preparation of a false Income Tax return by failing to report $1 million dollars in income the Jones Family Trust received in 2003. Jones also admitted that from late 1998 until March 2006, he defrauded the County of El Paso, the El Paso, Ysleta and Socorro Independent School Districts as well as the citizens living and voting in El Paso County of the right to honest services of elected officials by paying cash and other bribes in the forms of campaign contributions and gratuities in order to secure vendor contracts between Access Healthsource and the above mentioned entities. Judge Montalvo also sentenced 54-year-old Patrick Woods, former member of the Board of Directors for NCED, to three years in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release for conspiring to embezzle or steal federal program funds. Judge Montalvo also ordered Woods to pay $1,714,138.69 restitution. Woods admitted to conspiring with Bob Jones, and others between September 2005 and February 2006, to knowingly misapply without authority money generated through government contracts belonging to NCED. Specifically, Woods, Jones, and others caused NCED to purchase two pieces of property in El Paso in which Woods and Jones had a direct personal interest.

At the conclusion of today’s sentencings, Judge Montalvo remanded Jones and Woods into federal custody. Judge Montalvo postponed sentencing for former NCED Chief Operations Officer Ernesto Alonzo Lopez, a.k.a. Ernie Lopez. Lopez’s sentencing, originally scheduled for today, was reset to 9:00 a.m. on February 22, 2011, in order for the court to re-evaluate the total financial loss suffered by the government as a result of Lopez’s criminal conduct. On October 18, 2010, a federal jury found that Lopez conspired with Bob Jones to fraudulently secure an estimated $800-900 million dollars worth of government no-bid contracts for NCED under JWOD.

This ongoing investigation is being conducted by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division-Major Fraud Unit; the General Services Administration-Office of the Inspector General (GSA-OIG); the United States Postal Service-Office of the Inspector General (USPS-OIG); and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CID). The case is being prosecuted for the government by Assistant United States Attorneys William F. Lewis, Steve Spitzer, and Debra Kanof.

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