Ex-Harford resident gets six years in prison for taking bribes on Aberdeen Proving Ground contracts

A former Harford County resident has been sentenced to six years in federal prison for his role a bribery scheme involving federal contracts at Aberdeen Proving Ground.

John Kays, 44, was sentenced Friday by Judge Catherine C. Blake in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, according to the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office.

In addition to spending six years in prison, Kays will be on supervised release for three years and was ordered to forfeit $631,705 in property and is required to make $800,000 in restitution to the government, prosecutors said in a news release.

Kays, a Pinehurst, N.C., resident, was living in Bel Air around the time of the fraud scheme, which prosecutors said occurred between 2008 and 2014. Kays was accused of accepting $800,000 in bribes related to contracting at the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command headquartered at Aberdeen Proving Ground.

Kays' wife, Danielle Kays, 43, and Matthew Barrow, 44, of Toledo, Ohio, also were charged in the scheme and both have pleaded guilty. Danielle Kays is serving an 18-month sentence with the Bureau of Prisons. Barrow is awaiting sentencing.

John Kays pleaded guilty to one count of bribery on Sept. 8, 2017, according to court records.

According to the agreed statement of facts entered with John Kays’ plea, in March 2006, the U.S. Army Contracting Command at APG awarded a 10-year, $19.2 billion contract to seven prime contractors to provide technology services to support the integrated engineering, business operations and logistics needs for the Army. John and Danielle Kays each had leadership positions as civilians at APG related to this contract.

According to court documents, John Kays, Danielle Kays and Barrow graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point together. In 2008, John Kays and Danielle Kays had leadership positions within CECOM as civilian employees of the Army.

Barrow worked for a glass manufacturer in Toledo. Barrow formed a company called MJ-6, to which John Kays has admitted that he steered CECOM subcontracts in exchange for money, according to the statement of facts.

According to the plea agreements, from August 2008 to June 2014, John Kays agreed to take official actions favorable to Barrow and MJ-6 in return for Barrow paying the Kays a total of approximately $800,000.

Danielle Kays also admitted using her official position to benefit Barrow and MJ-6 from 2011 to 2014.

Specifically, according to prosecutors, the Kays used their official positions to add MJ–6 as a subcontractor acceptable to the Army, steer potential employees for government contractors to work for MJ-6, approve MJ-6 employees to work on various Task Orders and approve the pay rates, status reports and travel reimbursements for MJ-6 employees. Total contracts steered to MJ-6 by the Kays exceeded $21 million.

To conceal his corrupt relationship with the Kays, Barrow caused the glass company he worked for to enter into contracts and make payments to Transportation Logistics Services LLC, a company incorporated by John Kays, until the glass company fired Barrow, according to court documents.

Barrow then made payments to the Kays in cash, which Barrow withdrew from his personal accounts and from MJ-6 accounts.

To conceal the scheme, John and Danielle Kays made false statements on the government ethics forms that they were required to file by failing to disclose the cash payments received from Barrow, according to the statement of facts.

The Kays used the cash for their personal benefit, including payments for home renovations, two new vehicles, a powerboat, jewelry, a pool party at their country club and credit card bills, prosecutors said.

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