The US government favors service-disabled and minority veteran-owned businesses when it comes to awarding contracts for various services. Certain contracts are specially designated for these two groups only. But now and then an imposter comes along and pulls a fast one by falsely claiming their eligibility for tax money they aren’t rightfully or legally entitled to receive. And now and then they get busted for their hideous self-centered crime just as Matthew McPherson, 45, of Olathe, Kansas did.
McPherson, over time, secured $346 million in government contracts not earmarked for him. He is neither service-disabled, a minority, nor a veteran. As a result of his crime, McPherson will spend the next 28 months of his life behind bars without the possibility of parole. Plus he has to somehow pay back the $5 million he’s already received from the contracts.
U.S. Attorney Teresa Moore pulled no punches in a released statement. “This contractor not only defrauded the government but cheated to get contracts that should have gone to firms led by disabled veterans and minority owners. His greed and deception allowed him to enrich himself at the expense of disabled veterans and minority owners. After forfeiting more than $5.5 to the government and being sent to prison, he has learned the hard way that crime doesn’t pay.”
Though McPherson was the brains behind his scam, he didn’t act alone. A job this big required help. He enlisted the aid of Patrick Michael Dingle, 50, of Parkville Missouri who still awaits sentencing for one count of conspiracy to commit wire and major program fraud. To round out the trio, Stephon Zeigler, 61, of Weatherby Lake, Missouri, is also going to jail for fibbing to the Department of Veteran Affairs, but like Dingle, is still awaiting his sentencing scheduled for later this month.
Since Zeigler, a service-disabled African-American veteran was overly qualified for the money, McPherson took advantage of the fact by listing the guy as the “nominal owner” of his new company, aptly named Zieson Construction Company. But according to the findings of the DOJ, Zeigler never actively worked for the company. He was clueless concerning the companies daily operations and had zero decision-making power. He had simply allowed McPherson to use his identity, for which he had undoubtedly been handsomely rewarded.
It was also discovered how McPherson had established a second small business for receiving additional contracts by stealing a Ziesons employee’s identity who happened to be a 61-year-old Native American by the name of Rustin Simone. McPherson called this one, on paper only, the Simcon Corporation.
IRS-CI Special Agent in Charge, Tyler Hatcher, said, “McPherson lied about being qualified for these contracts and used nominees to further his crime. The government established unique programs designed to help small disadvantaged businesses gain a foothold in the awarding of government contracts.” The guy ripped money straight out of the hands of disabled veterans. His sentence should have been 28 years instead of 28 months, but chances are pretty good he won’t try it again when he’s released, so…justice was appropriately served.
Here’s where McPherson fouled up. Both of his companies listed the same identical employees and were located at the exact same address in a building owned by an LLC that McPherson just happened to be in charge of. If you’re gonna be a crook, at least one of McPherson’s magnitude, first take an IQ test to see if you’re qualified for the position. Bet he wishes he had.