Heidi Lynn Webster, MD, a former Army officer radiologist and founder of the defense contractors MRI Resources Inc. and Pro Veteran Staffing, has pleaded guilty to defrauding the U.S. government through her role in a scheme to obtain multiple U.S. Army contracts and sub-contracts for radiology equipment and services.
Webster, 50, is a former U.S. Army officer physician living in Manhattan, Kan. After leaving the Army, she became a successful civilian contractor with a secret advantage. Her business partner, Lawrence Peter Fenti, 43, of New Braunfels, Tex., would use his potion as a non-commissioned officer in charge of Base Realignment and Closure issues for Brooks Army Medical Center (BAMC) radiology to funnel contracts and sub-contacts her way, including MRI contracts alone totaling nearly $7 million. (An additional over-half-million-dollar contract for staffing services put the scheme in excess of $7 million.) For his part in securing the contracts, Fenti received thousands in kickbacks from Webster.
Both pleaded guilty in the Western District of Texas U.S. Court to one count of conspiracy and one count of bribery. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the conspiracy included “intent to defraud the United States; violate the government conflict of interest law; commit bribery; commit wire fraud; make false claims against the United States; make false statements to federal authorities; and commit money laundering.”
A third defendant in the case, 43-year-old John Walter Hoffman, owner/operator of Hoffman Surgical Devices Inc. in San Antonio, Tex., is awaiting trial.
Per their plea agreements, Fenti and Webster face a maximum six years in federal prison. During the investigation, authorities seized approximately $500,000. In addition, the government is seeking a monetary judgment against Fenti in the amount of $402,485.35, as well as a $613,828 monetary judgment against Webster.
“The defendants in this case treated the American taxpayers like their own personal ATMs, rigging bids for government contracts and inflating invoices for radiology equipment and services. This prosecution should send a message to would-be thieves that we are keeping a close watch on government contracting and when we detect fraud we will respond with the full force of the criminal law,” stated U.S. Attorney Robert Pitman in a Department of Justice press release.
Assistant United States Attorney James Blankinship is prosecuting the case on behalf of the government.