Former UOG prof, former federal employee sentenced in bid-rigging
By Pacific Island Times News Staff
A former professor at the University of Guam, a former federal employee and his daughter were sent behind bars after being convicted of money laundering and wire fraud charges for conspiring to rig the bidding for a federally-funded project at UOG. The defendants fraudulently obtained over $200,000 in project work from November 2014 to June 2015, according to Shawn N. Anderson, U.S. Attorney for Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.
Thomas E. Marler, 62, a resident of Piti, was sentenced to 12 months and one day of imprisonment. The former UOG professor was convicted of conspiracy to restrain trade and money laundering. The court ordered two years of supervised release, a fine of $20,000, and a special assessment fee of $300. John Hobart “Bart” Lawrence, 62, of Gresham, Oregon, a former employee of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, was sentenced to four months in prison for conspiracy to restrain trade, and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, The court ordered one year of supervised release, a $4,000 fine, and a special assessment fee of $200 His daughter, Jayanika Lawrence, 33, was sentenced to one-year probation for unlawfully cutting trees on U.S. lands. The court ordered a $25 special assessment fee. The trial established that when he was employed as UOG professor, Marler conspired with Hobart Lawrence and Jayanika Lawrence to rig the bids for a research project funded by the U.S. Navy and the USDA for the university.
During this time, Marler was also the principal investigator for certain federally-funded cooperative agreements where his responsibilities included bidding out and awarding project work in compliance with UOG’s procurement process. Instead of holding public solicitation, Marler produced fictitious bids in order to make the procurement process appear legitimate and awarded the project work to Isla Paraiso, a company controlled by Marler, and to Sansar Consulting, a company owned by Jayanika Lawrence and operated with the help of John Lawrence, Marler’s longtime friend and associate. “A competitive bidding process promotes fairness among those seeking government-funded projects,” Anderson said.
“It also ensures that taxpayers are getting the most value for their money. The defendants’ actions undermined this process to the detriment of others, including UOG. Our office applauds our federal partners for their hard work in bringing these defendants to justice," he added.
"Thomas Marlerused his position as principal investigator between the University of Guam and the Department of the Navy to manipulate governmental contracts that were favorable to Isla Paraiso, a company he controlled," said Steven Merrill, FBI special agent in charge.
Merrill said the conclusion of the case “sends a clear message that the FBI, working with our federal partners in the Internal Revenue Service and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, will continue to hold individuals accountable when they violate federal laws and to protect the integrity of the federal government's contract process."
“Mr. Marler, Mr. Lawrence, and Ms. Lawrence conspired together out of greed to unfairly profit themselves, and they did so at the expense of other businesses operating in an honest manner,” said Bret Kressin, IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Special Agent in Charge, Seattle Field Office. “Fair business practices exist to promote opportunities for everyone, and IRS-CI will continue to investigate those who cheat and choose not to play fairly.”