Evelyn Langford, 49, of Copperas Cove, Texas pleaded guilty on March 20 to one count of wire fraud and one count of bribery. According to the plea agreement, Langford admitted that in 2012 she was the Director of the Department of Human Resources of the Government of American Samoa (ASG), a territory of the United States located in the South Pacific Ocean. As part of her duties, she was charged with partial oversight of a $24.8 million U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) National Emergency Grant (NEG). The grant was awarded to American Samoa in the wake of a September 2009 tsunami that caused significant damage in American Samoa. Langford admitted that while administering the funds, she accepted payments from a contractor. She then provided that contractor favorable official action.
In February 2012, a company known as the Native Hawaiian Holding Company Inc. (NHHC) entered into a service contract with the ASG. Under this contract, NHHC received approximately $4.7 million of the NEG funds to develop a “contact center” (or call center) industry in American Samoa. The NEG service contract was signed by an NHHC representative, Quin Rudin, and by Langford and other ASG representatives. The contract also contained provisions generally prohibiting employees of the ASG from soliciting or receiving gratuities from NHHC.
Notwithstanding the prohibition from soliciting gratuities, Langford nevertheless requested that Rudin extend her a “loan,” which Rudin agreed to do. Langford received a $10,000 payment from Rudin in April 2012 and a $250,000 payment in May 2012. After receiving the funds, Langford provided favorable official action on behalf of Rudin and NHHC. For example, Langford admitted making arrangements to have NHHC representatives, including Rudin, meet with the Governor of American Samoa for the purpose of “pitching” business ideas to him, including proposals regarding transportation and medical development projects. In addition, Langford concealed the true nature and scope of her dealings with Rudin and NHHC, including by failing to advise other employees of the ASG and employees of the DOL in San Francisco that she had received gifts and payments from NHHC and Rudin and from companies associated with him. Langford, waived indictment and was charged in an information on Jan. 15. She was charged with wire fraud and bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds in violation.
The individual who made the payments to Langford, Rudin, has been prosecuted separately for a scheme to defraud Cisco Systems Inc., and its subsidiary Cisco Systems Capital Corporation, related to the lease of Cisco equipment. Rudin’s case is pending in the Northern District of California.
The sentence was handed down by District Judge Jon S. Tigar of the Northern District of California, following the guilty plea. Judge Tigar also sentenced the defendant to a three year period of supervised release and ordered her to pay $260,000 in restitution to the ASG. The defendant will begin serving the sentence on Sept. 25.