Former PBGC Official Pleads Guilty to Bribery Conspiracy

Jeffrey Donahue could face 15 years in prison for conspiracy to bribe a public official.

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC)’s former director of procurement has pleaded guilty to accepting bribes from the CEO of a government contracting firm in exchange for helping the firm win contracts from the agency.

According to the US Justice Department, Jeffrey Donahue solicited and received cash, and other items of value, as well as the promise of a job valued at $1 million from Nadeem Ansari and Ansari’s company. Donahue and Ansari each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to bribe a public official, which is punishable by up to 15 years in prison. The two are scheduled to be sentenced in September. 

According to court documents, Donahue approached Ansari in 2015 and offered to help his company win a PBGC contract worth approximately $55 million in exchange for a future job with the company. Donahue provided Ansari with sample bid proposals, and helped draft, review, and edit the company’s bid proposal. He also disclosed labor pricing estimates. When the company did not win the contract, Donahue helped Ansari draft the company’s bid protest. Ansari also acknowledged that his business partners were aware of his arrangement with Donahue.

In 2016, Donahue proposed a second arrangement with Ansari in which Donahue would receive up to $125,000 in exchange for steering a contract to Ansari’s company. This time, the PBGC awarded the contract to Ansari’s firm, which resulted in payments to the company of approximately $3.29 million. Donahue helped Ansari win the contract by providing sensitive, non-public information and work products to Ansari, as well as giving guidance for contract pricing. He also adjusted the terms of the contract to align with the qualifications of the company’s personnel.

Donahue received at least $48,000 in cash, plus additional gifts. The two also tried to conceal the scheme and their communications with each other, including by using separate, dedicated cellphones and email accounts and communicating through encrypted software.

“Fraud, abuse, and any other illegal and unethical behaviors have no place in the federal government’s operations,” PBGC Director Gordon Hartogensis said in a statement. “They are unacceptable in any case—but especially when they involve the hard-earned dollars of the workers and retirees PBGC protects.”

Donahue had been appointed director of PBGC’s procurement department in November 2018. In the role, he oversaw the procurement process and acquisition solutions that were intended to support the agency’s mission. The procurement department manages the process of competing, awarding, and administering PBGC contracts.

Donahue had previously served as chief of the contract administration division and also was acting director of procurement from November 2017 to March 2018. Prior to joining the PBGC in 2014, Donahue was a senior manager for a company that provides contract and acquisition support to federal agencies. He was also previously chairman of the Small Agency Council Procurement Committee and a board member for the Federal Acquisition Institute.

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