A former Army Reserve lieutenant colonel who engaged in a scheme to defraud the U.S. military and then dumped those ill-gotten gains in shell companies, real estate, cars, a boat and gold coins has pleaded guilty to two felony counts in a deal with prosecutors.
David Young, 50, of Hernando County, Fla., pleaded guilty Friday in U.S. District Court for Utah to one count of violating a prohibition on disclosure of procurement information and one count of money laundering. He agreed to forfeit $1.6 million kept in eight different bank accounts; property in New Hampshire and 14 homes and a lot in Florida; a 2006 Hummer; a 2002 Sea Ray Mercruiser; a 1999 Jaguar; and 400 one-ounce gold coins worth about $520,000.
As part of the deal, prosecutors agreed to seek a prison term of between three years and four years when Young is sentence on March 25.
Christopher Harris, 49, a second defendant in the scheme, pleaded guilty earlier this month to one count of conspiracy to commit government procurement fraud and one count of money laundering. Harris, 49, also will be sentenced on March 25; prosecutors have agreed to seek a reduced sentence for Harris of about four years.
A third defendant Michael L. Taylor of Boston pleaded guilty in November to one count of violationg the federal Procurement Integrity Act and, in a related case, one count of wire fraud. No sentencing date has been set for Taylor, 52.
Young was once regarded as a political star who was elected at age 21 to the New Hampshire Legislature, played a key role in John McCain's presidential campaign in the state and was a guest at inaugurations for both Presidents George Bush Sr. and George Bush Jr. and was known for hosting lavish political fundraisers, according to the Tampa Bay Times. But Young also ran into trouble as a lawyer and member of the military.
Young was disbarred in 2006 after being accused of misusing a client's money. In 2009, he was court-martialed and found guilty of taking a pair of Humvees without permission while serving in Afghanistan.
Utah prosecutors alleged the fraud scheme developed in 2007.
According to prosecutors, Young and Harris became acquainted while serving in the Special Forces in Iraq between November 2002 and June 2003. Taylor, also a former Green Beret, owns American International Security Corporation (AISC), which provides security services, and hired Harris as his in-country manager in Afghanistan.
Young was deployed in Afghanistan with the U.S. Army at the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force from March to June of 2007, where he directed the Afghan National Security Force Partnering. That group was tasked with transfering national security duties to the Afghans and sought bidders on a contract to provide logistics and weapons maintenance training to the country's commando units.
In his plea agreement, Young admitted that he shared confidential bid information with Taylor and Harris, including the government's price estimate for the work and information contained in a competitor's bid.
AISC subsequently submitted the winning bid for the contract, which was initially for about $900,000. Over the next two years, the contract was extended and expanded and the company took in about $54 million. While work was completed as requested, prosecutors alleged about half the sum was illicit.
In his plea deal, Harris said AISC paid him $17 million and that he and the company then paid Young more than $9.4 million, funds that were distributed to various individuals and entities as directed by Young.
Young acknowledged in his plea statement that the wire transfers included a single payment of $196,869 to one of his associates but intended for himself.
The Defense Criminal Investigative Service and Homeland Security Investigations began looking at Harris in early 2010 after being tipped off that he had made a series of withdrawals from two different accounts at banks in Southern Utah all in $9,000 increments, which Harris told a clerk was aimed at avoiding government scrutiny.
A federal grand jury in Utah charged the three men in a 72-count indictment issued in August 2012. Taylor later was indicted in a separate case on allegations he tried get a New York FBI agent to derail the investigation involving him and his company; the case against Robert G. Lustyik, the special agent, is still pending.
As part of his deal with prosecutors, Harris forfeited two homes in St. George; lots in St. George, and Peachland, British Columbia; and $30,300 in cash. In Taylor's case, prosecutors agreed to seek two sentences of up to 24 months, set to run concurrently and with credit for time served; Taylor was released Nov. 27 after spending about 14 months in the Davis County Jail. Taylor forfeited $3.2 million as part of that settlement.