U.S. Attorney's Office
Western District of Texas
September 29, 2023
SAN ANTONIO – A Converse man and six alleged co-conspirators were arrested this week on criminal charges related to their alleged conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
According to court documents Aaron Sams, 39, owns and operates Sams Contracting Consulting and Training LLC. The indictment alleges he used his business to advertise and market a service to historically underutilized business zone (HUBZone) companies.
HUBZone is a Small Business Administration (SBA) program designed to provide federal contracting assistance for qualified small businesses to increase employment opportunities, investment and economic development in such areas. The program gives preferences in government contracting to businesses that qualify as a HUBZone small business. To qualify for the HUBZone program a business must maintain its principal office in an SBA-designated HUBZone and have at least 35% of its employees living in a HUBZone.
The indictment alleges that Beverly Smith, 40, of Converse; Jesus Rodriguez, 63, of San Antonio; Uchennaya Ogba, 35, of San Antonio; Kristin Harrison, 37, of Killeen; Jonathan Adams, 36, of Lawrenceville, Georgia; and Barbara Sanders, 41, of San Antonio, all conspired with Sams and his business to defraud the United States.
According to the indictment, Sams and Rodriguez worked together to identify a group of close friends and family who would serve as fake employees and provide them with personal identifying information such as their driver’s license and social security card. The fake employees, who are co-defendants in this case, are alleged to have known that Sams would send their information to companies in order to be placed on a particular company’s payroll, and each fake employee purportedly paid a kickback to Sams and/or Rodriguez of approximately 20 percent of each payroll deposit they would receive.
The indictment also alleges that Sams and his co-conspirators created email addresses for the fake employees using an email address at a domain that Sams had complete control of, and that Sams and Rodriguez would sanitize the fake employees’ resumes by removing real phone numbers and email addresses from the resumes to ensure that HUBZone companies could never contact any fake employees directly.
The seven defendants are each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States. If convicted, each defendant faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
U.S. Attorney Jaime Esparza of the Western District of Texas and Special Agent in Charge Oliver E. Rich, Jr. for the FBI San Antonio Division made the announcement.
The FBI is investigating the case with valuable assistance from the Department of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations; Department of Defense Office of the Inspector General’s Defense Criminal Investigative Service; Department of the Army Criminal Investigation Division’s Major Procurement Fraud Field Office; Small Business Administration Office of Inspector General’s Central Region; U.S. General Services Administration Office of Inspector General; and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Daphne Newaz is prosecuting the case.
An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
Source: U.S. Attorney's Office press release