A single woman in North Carolina has used dozens of fake names and companies to raise millions of dollars in government contracts for more than a decade, according to federal prosecutors.
Stephanie Dianna Elliott, 45, is accused of securing government contracts for everything from prison food to military supplies, without ever delivering the goods or paying the third-party suppliers who fulfilled the orders. Instead, federal prosecutors said Elliott was keeping the money for expensive vacations and purchases.
She was charged last month with 26 counts of wire fraud and five counts of money laundering, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina said in a press release on Tuesday.
Elliott, who is from Fayetteville, faces up to 20 years in prison on each count if convicted.
Defense attorneys representing her did not immediately respond to McClatchy News’ request for comment Tuesday after office hours.
State and federal governments award billions of dollars each year to skilled contractors – the most expensive of which are distributed by the US Department of Defense for military operations. Aerospace and defense companies such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Northrop Grumman regularly receives contacts valued at over $ 100 million.
Elliott’s alleged plan began as early as 2006 with a contract to deliver 4.5 million bags of sand to Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina devastated the state the year before.
Prosecutors said she won the contract by submitting a low bid, then made a deal with a sandbag manufacturing company to deliver the sandbags to the National Guard at a higher price. She would have risked losing over $ 500,000 on this deal. But upon paying the company, prosecutors said Elliott gave about a third of what was owed.
Elliott used what was left of the $ 900,000 she received from the government to pay restitution for the victim in a court case, buy a Mercedes, transfer her then husband’s money, and take at least six trips to eight weeks in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, according to an indictment filed last month.
Prosecutors said she orchestrated a similar scam in 2008 under a contract to deliver food to Louisiana prisons using a Mississippi-based food distribution company.
It was not until 2010 that Elliott would have set his sights on Department of Defense contracts.
She used at least 17 companies and 16 pseudonyms along with her real name to secure transactions and relied on the government to send payment before goods were shipped or received, according to the indictment. Over the next 10 years, prosecutors said Elliott blocked more than 1,000 federal defense contracts worth at least $ 2.2 million.
Whenever the government has blocked Elliott and her company from receiving future contracts, prosecutors said she filed a new offer under a different name with a different company.
She is accused of spending money on lottery tickets, restaurants and travel – including $ 15,000 on flights, a hotel and cash withdrawals at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, according to the act of ‘charge.
Elliott also used the contract money to shop at Victoria’s Secret, travel to Jamaica and Aruba, and fund trips to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, prosecutors said.
A grand jury indicted Elliott on March 18 and she was arrested on April 6, court documents show. A federal judge ordered her to remain in jail pending trial, citing in part the safety of the community and the weight of the evidence against her.
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