Former Vice President of FTA Grantee Convicted of Conspiracy, Wire Fraud and False Claims in Massachusetts Trial
On June 21, 2011, Christopher Willson, former senior vice-president of EV Worldwide LLC (EVW), was convicted after a two week jury trial in U.S. District Court, Boston, Massachusetts, of one count of conspiracy to defraud the U.S., six counts of wire fraud and four counts of submitting false claims to the U.S. Charges related to obstruction of an audit were dismissed.
Mr. Willson, former EVW CEO Michael Armitage, and EVW were indicted in April 2009 on various charges including wire fraud, conspiracy, false claims, and endeavoring to obstruct a U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of Inspector General audit. Mr. Armitage also was charged with numerous unrelated criminal tax violations and pled guilty to all charges on October 20, 2010. Mr. Armitage is scheduled to be sentenced on September 26, 2011. The indictment against the defunct EVW was dismissed on June 22, 2011.
EVW and its wholly-owned subsidiary ElectraStor LLC received funding from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) through the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority (PVTA) to develop a nickel-hydride battery to power a bus. EVW received approximately $4.2 million in FTA funds via Congressional earmarks between 2000 and 2006.
The investigation disclosed that between November 2004 and July 2006, Mr. Armitage, Mr. Willson, and EVW conspired to defraud FTA by submitting fraudulent invoices to FTA through PVTA which claimed that the FTA share of project costs did not exceed the 50% level required under the terms of the funding and sought reimbursement for fictitious, inflated, or ineligible expenses. Through proceeds from the invoices, Mr. Armitage, Mr. Willson, and EVW received wire transfers of approximately $703,000 which they used for their own benefit as well as for the benefit of HSM Systems, Inc., a Canadian company founded by Mr. Armitage and Mr. Willson.
The investigation was jointly conducted with Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigative Division and assisted by the Defense Contract Audit Agency.
Mr. Willson is scheduled to be sentenced on October 11, 2011.
For more information please see the U.S. Attorney's Office press release.