SAN DIEGO–U.S. Navy Port Engineer from Jamul pleaded guilty May 9 to a conflict of interest charge, admitting that he improperly administered projects at the Navy’s Southwest Regional Maintenance Center involving a defense contractor with whom he had a financial relationship.
According to his plea agreement, John Nasshan, 55, made decisions and recommendations affecting Navy contracts with NevWest, Inc. even though he made personal loans to a company official, which is a conflict of interest.
Nasshan has been employed at Southwest Regional Maintenance Center as a Combat Systems Port Engineer since March of 2009. As a Combat Systems Port Engineer, Nasshan drafted technical direction letters, recommended which contractors were qualified for jobs and verified and certified work performed on Navy ships by contractors.
Among other things, San Diego-based NevWest provides combat systems engineering support, electronic technical support, enterprise management and application development services in command, control and communications, computers, combat systems, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and electronics space modernizations.
As detailed in government pleadings, between May 2011 and September 2015, Nasshan had a financial interest in the business affairs of NevWest. In particular, Nasshan loaned NevWest more than $30,000 at the same time that NevWest was engaged in numerous subcontracts with Southwest Regional Maintenance Center. Naashan made these loans despite recognizing that his job required that he administer NevWest subcontracts.
In order to hide and conceal their illegal activity, Nasshan and an official at NevWest agreed to keep their financial arrangement secret; to deal in cash when exchanging amounts over $10,000; and to structure the cash they were exchanging by dividing it up into amounts of $10,000 or less.
Nasshan also lied to both Naval Criminal Investigative Service and Federal Bureau of Investigation agents regarding his relationship with NevWest. For example, on November 13, 2015, he falsely told an FBI agent that he did not have a financial interest with NevWest; that he never gave a NevWest employee cash or a check; and he never loaned a company official or NevWest money.
“As in all phases of the Government contracting process, it is essential that the work performed by contractors be done free of undue influence, bias, or favoritism,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Alana Robinson. “Accordingly, government officials and employees are prohibited from working on any and all matters that would affect their personal financial position.
“The successful prosecution of this case was the direct result of collaborative teamwork between the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, our federal law enforcement partners and the U.S. Attorney’s Office,” said Gunnar Newquist, Special Agent in Charge of the NCIS Southwest Field Office. “Convictions like this should be a warning to those who would attempt to take advantage of the U.S. Navy, for personal gain. We are unified in our efforts to catch criminals who not only defraud the U.S. Navy, but specifically are stealing money from the American taxpayers at the direct loss to our warfighters.”
“DCIS and its partner agencies will aggressively investigate Department of Defense personnel who abuse their positions of trust and corruptly advance their own interests. This behavior tarnishes the integrity of the Department’s procurement processes and erodes the public’s faith in government,” said Chris Hendrickson, Special Agent in Charge of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service’s Western Field Office.
Nasshan faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and $250,000 fine.