The now-terminated Deputy Chief Information officer for Prince William County and subject of an FBI investigation for bid-rigging and possibly other charges of corruption turns out to be the very person that County Executive Craig Gerhart singled out for an award honoring work performance award last June, which is rightly raising some eyebrows. Insiders tell me that these awards are often bureaucratic perks ladled out to cronies who are supportive of Gerhart’s empire building, and rarely have anything to do with actual performance, being almost entirely driven by politics. This apparent payback definitely raises questions about the level of involvement by the County Executive in this ongoing public corruption investigation.
From the News & Messenger:
While employed, Gupta received county recognition for his work performance. In June 2008, county executive Craig Gerhart awarded several employees for “exceptional contributions to the county government and excellent service to Prince William County residents,” according to a press release on the county’s Web site.
“The county executive’s awards are presented annually to selected employees whose exemplary per-formance sets a standard of excellence for the county government and demonstrates that leadership can originate from any level within our government,” the release continues.
Gupta was recognized then as a member of the DRIVE Steering Team that was in charge of revising the county’s merit system, according to the release.
I’m looking forward to seeing Gupta and the others implicated in this probe roll over on Gerhart in exchange for a plea deal. If they do, I imagine a number of other employees currently being forced into silence will be more interested in sharing what they know with criminal investigators. Although the stated reason for FBI involvement in what would normally be something handled by the county office of the Commonwealth Attorney is that federal funds were involved, actual involvement in such cases seems to be exceedingly rare, especially when just about any state or local fraud or corruption case involves federal dollars in some way. There’s quite likely a much more believable explanation for this unusual federal involvement.
Procurement activities within the Office of Information Technology are likely just the tip of the iceberg here, and this is a great opportunity to clean up a long-festering mess. Although three pretty senior county employees have been identified as targets so far, in the end we might see quite a few more join them.
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