Engineer Waives Jury Trial in Navy Kickback Case
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A former civilian naval engineer from Virginia and his father have said they want to waive a jury trial in connection with what prosecutors say was a kickback scheme that cost the U.S. Navy $10 million.
Ralph Mariano, of South Arlington, Va., and his father, Ralph Mariano Jr., of North Providence, are scheduled to go before U.S. District Court Judge Mary Lisi in Providence on Friday to ask her to decide their guilt or innocence in a bench trial. A filing their lawyers made this month indicates a third person indicted in the case, Mary O'Rourke, a former employee of now-defunct Navy contractor Advanced Solutions for Tomorrow, which had offices in Rhode Island and Georgia, also plans to ask for a bench trial.
Mariano's lawyer, Robert Corrente, said they are requesting a bench trial because they expect the trial to be long and complex.
"There are literally several million pieces of paper here, and the subject matter is pretty complicated," Corrente said Monday.
Lawyers for Mariano Jr. and O'Rourke did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment Monday. Mariano, Mariano Jr. and O'Rourke have pleaded not guilty.
Mariano and O'Rourke are charged with counts including conspiracy, theft of government property and wire fraud. Mariano Jr., who is in his 80s, is accused of tax evasion, failing to report what prosecutors say were some of the proceeds of the scheme.
Mariano worked for the Naval Undersea Warfare Center. Prosecutors say he had the power to authorize or refuse payments to contractors and used that power to orchestrate a scheme in which he would approve payments to Advanced Solutions for Tomorrow, or ASFT, which would then funnel back some of the money to him, O'Rourke, Mariano Jr. and others.
O'Rourke is an attorney and was a senior vice president at the contractor. Prosecutors say that she is a longtime associate of Mariano's and that ASFT hired her at his direction in 1998.
The owner and founder of ASFT, Anjan Dutta-Gupta, of Roswell, Ga., has pleaded guilty to paying $8 million in bribes over more than a decade. Patrick Nagle, of Marietta, Ga., a former executive for ASFT, pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit bribery. Prosecutors say Nagle signed off on false and inflated invoices that were submitted by subcontractors even though he knew the work had largely not been done.
Another man, Russell Spencer, has admitted acting as a middleman. Prosecutors say he funneled kickbacks to Mariano through a company he owned. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery.
Dutta-Gupta, Nagle and Spencer haven't been sentenced.