Former OPM employee pleads guilty to steering millions in contracts to family-connected firms

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Scenes from outside the United States Office of Personnel Management in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday May 21, 2019.

Sarah Silbiger | The Washington Post | Getty Images

A former employee of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management pleaded guilty in Washington, D.C., federal court on Friday to steering more than $10 million worth of OPM contracts to companies associated with her or her husband over the course of 12 years, authorities said.

The former OPM worker, 54-year-old Sheron Spann, is due to be sentenced Sept. 21.

Spann pleaded guilty to one felony count of taking actions affecting a personal financial interest. The maximum sentence for the charge is five years, but the recommended sentence is zero to six months.

Spann admitted at her plea hearing Friday that as early as 2011 she began steering OPM “information technology contracts to companies under control of Spann and her husband without disclosing the nature or extent of her relationship to the companies,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia said in a press release.

Spann, who began working at OPM’s contracting office in 2007, is married to Thomas Spann III. Her husband is the co-founder of a company named Enlightened Inc. He had also worked for another company called LogApps, court records show.

When Enlightened was incorporated in Maryland and Washington in 1997, Sheron Spann signed documents as a witness for its articles of incorporation, documents show.

A court filing says that in August 2011, Sheron Spann used her government email address to propose to an OPM contracting office representative that OPM invite Enlightened to bid on a contract for developing software used to manage background investigations for federal employees and contractors.

Enlightened won that contract, which had a funding ceiling of $4.5 million, with Sheron Spann serving as OPM’s point of contact on the deal, the court filing said.

Work under that contract ended up surpassing the original funding ceiling, “to exceed $25 million,” according to the filing.

Enlightened won a $1.5 million contract from OPM in April 2017 without having to compete with other bidders, the filing said.

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Five months after that, OPM awarded Enlightened another contract that ended up earning the company more than $7.35 million, according to the filing.

“At the same time that S. Spann was overseeing OPM’s contracts with Enlightened, S. Spann was deriving a personal financial benefit from Enlightened through an intermediary company Enlightened utilized as one of its contractors, Tier 1 LLC,” the filing said.

Financial records showed that Enlightened paid Tier 1 LLC nearly $736,000 from March 2012 through April 2017.

Documents also show that funds from Enlightened to Tier 1 made “payments for accounts that benefits both S. Spann and T. Spann, including an American Express account, and vehicle payments” to three lenders.

Sheron Spann’s lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

CNBC has also reached out to Enlightened for comment.

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