March 31, 2010 in Business

2 charged in Hanford wire fraud

Ex-manager, wife accused of putting personal purchases on company credit card
By The Spokesman-Review
 
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A former Hanford manager and his wife are facing criminal charges for allegedly using a company credit card to spend $487,000 on personal items.

Paul F. Kempf and Anita M. Gust are charged with conspiracy to commit fraud and criminal wire fraud in a recent filing in U.S. District Court for Eastern Washington.

Attempts to reach Kempf and Gust were unsuccessful. The couple’s last known address is in West Richland.

Kempf was an operations manager between 2000 and 2005 for Richland companies Fluor Hanford and CH2M Hill Hanford Group. During those five years, Fluor Hanford initially, and then CH2M Hill Hanford Group, had contracts with the Department of Energy to test methods for storing nuclear waste.

The indictment says Kempf used company-issued credit cards for purchases listed as laboratory supplies from a Tri-Cities company called AMG Marketing, owned by Gust.

Instead of receiving supplies, the payments went into the account in Gust’s name, according to the court filing.

Court documents also said the amounts paid to AMG were spent by Kempf and Gust on personal expenses, including more than $6,000 to pay for the restoration of Kempf’s 1966 Chevrolet Nova.

Between 2000 and 2005, investigators found roughly 600 “false AMG purchase descriptions” created by Kempf using cards issued by his two employers, the indictment said.

Kempf no longer works for CH2M Hill.

CH2M Hill, a global engineering firm, is one of the nation’s largest federal contractors. In 2009, according to budget documents, it received $1.8 billion in contracts, making it Washington’s largest federal contractor.

K. Jill Bolton, an assistant U.S. Attorney in Spokane, said it took several years to bring charges because investigating the scheme was time-consuming.

“This case involved lots of documents and a large number of bank records,” Bolton said. “It just takes a long time to do the forensics” for a case like this, she said.

The couple face six counts of wire fraud; Bolton said each count carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.


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