President of Automotive Repair Business Charged and Convicted of Conspiracy to Commit Bribery
On April 6, 2016, Thomas Eugene Ahalt was charged and pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court, Alexandria, VA. Ahalt, the president of Mobile Auto Truck Repair (MATR), rented space at Virginia Regional Transit (VRT) and performed maintenance and repair on buses and vehicles owned and operated by VRT. VRT provides transportation services throughout northern Virginia and is funded by a combination of Federal, State and local grants, including grants from DOT.
According to the information and plea agreement, Ahalt participated in two fraud schemes from January 2007 through December 2015. In the first scheme, Ahalt and a former CEO of VRT agreed MATR would submit—and VRT would approve—false invoices for certain labor charges. In exchange, Ahalt would make bi-weekly kickback payments to the former CEO totaling half of the additional labor charges. Additionally, between 2007 and 2015, the former CEO approved and VRT paid MATR approximately $380,000 in fraudulent additional labor charges. During the same period, Ahalt gave the former CEO approximately $190,000 in illegal kickback payments.
In addition to the kickback payment scheme, Ahalt also regularly caused MATR to submit false invoices to VRT for parts and labor associated with maintaining VRT vehicles. Ahalt, for example, frequently added fictitious entries to invoices for repairs that had not occurred and for parts that had not been installed. MATR submitted at least $136,000 in false invoices to VRT between 2012 and 2015. VRT subsequently paid these false invoices using, in part, federal funds from DOT.
DOT-OIG is conducting this investigation with the FBI.