Maryland couple pleads guilty to kickback scheme related to NASA contract

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A Gaithersburg, Maryland, husband and wife, Vishesh Giri, 45, and Ana Veronica Giri, 49, pleaded guilty on September 30 and Oct. 15, 2021, respectively, to engaging in a kickback scheme in which they unlawfully received money related to a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) grant program and to conspiring to defraud the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by not paying income taxes on the kickbacks they received.

The Giris pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud and to defraud the IRS. The two are scheduled to be sentenced on February 25, 2022. Each of them faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office from the Eastern District of Virginia based on court documents, Ana Giri, a NASA subcontractor, conspired with her husband, Vishesh Giri, from around 2002 through 2019, to receive kickbacks in exchange for Ana Giri ensuring that a specific vendor would be selected to provide information technology and audio-visual services necessary for a NASA contract.

Vishesh Giri served as a runner by traveling to the vendor’s office locations in the Eastern District of Virginia to collect the payments.

The Giris and the vendor agreed to a payment routine in which the Giris would receive 10% of each contract awarded to the vendor, the press release said.

In addition to the monetary kickbacks, the vendor provided the Giris with televisions, computers, and other electronic equipment.

Since 2011, the Giris received at least $707,331, paid through 260 kickback payments, investigators found. The Giris did not report these earnings on their 2011 through 2019 income tax returns, which resulted in a tax loss of at least $165,471, the Justice Department said.

“As a result of this conspiracy, the Giris were able to maintain a lavish lifestyle, including the purchase of multiple real estate properties between 2005 and 2018 in Maryland and North Carolina,” the press release said.

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