Ex-Air Force landlord pleads guilty to fraud over poor housing conditions

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Ex-Air Force landlord pleads guilty to fraud over poor housing conditions

Homes built by Balfour Beatty are pictured in a neighborhood at Tinker Air Force Base in Denmark

Two former employees of Balfour Beatty Communities, one of the largest private landlords in the U.S. military, have pleaded guilty to fraud for helping the company secure millions in bonuses while protecting poor housing conditions at several Air Force bases, announced Department of Justice.

Two years ago, Reuters reports described how Balfour Beatty employees falsified maintenance documents in Air Force bases to help the company pay incentive fees, citing five former employees who said they falsified records, company emails and internal communications. Service members and their families were exposed to asbestos, vermin, mold and raw sewage.

The reports prompted an investigation by the Air Force Office of Special Investigations and the Inspector General's Defense Criminal Investigative Service. It continues to be ongoing.

To read the stories, click https: www.reuters. com investigates special-report usa-military maintenance and https: www.reuters. com investigates special-report usa-military lackland

Stacy Cabrera, a former housing manager at the Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, told Reuters she was under pressure to manipulate the records to meet the bonus goals, pleaded guilty to major fraud in April and faces up to five years in prison and a $200 000 fine.

'You can either make these numbers match so we can get the incentives or you may not have a job tomorrow, said Cabrera, whose name was Stacy Nelson when she worked for the company in 2019, told Reuters. Reached on Wednesday, Cabrera said she could not comment.

Rick Cunefare, a former Balfour Beatty Regional Manager who oversaw bases in Oklahoma, Texas and other states, pleaded guilty earlier this year to major fraud and faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

The DOJ said Cunefare directed Underlings to make the company's maintenance performance seem stronger than it was. Cunefare admitted that the false information deceived the United States Air Force, DOJ said.

'The defendants defrauded the U.S. Air Force and placed corporate profits ahead of the well-being of servicemembers and their families, said Acting Assistant Attorney-General Nicholas L. McQuaid of the Criminal Division of the Justice Department.

Balfour Beatty Communities, a unit of the UK infrastructure conglomerate Balfour Beatty plc, told Reuters that it never sanctioned the correction of records and that it institutes internal controls to ensure the practice is not repeated.

The company is continuing to work with the Department of Justice to resolve this matter, a spokesman said on Wednesday.

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