Contractor Sentenced to 10 Years for $125M Fraud on Federal Projects

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A contractor has been sentenced to 10 years in prison, ordered to pay $6.6 million in restitution and forfeit $17.8 million after a 25-year fraud on the U.S. government to get building contracts.

Sina Moayedi, 68, former owner of Montage Inc., pled guilty in April 2023 to conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud, conspiracy to commit bribery of a public official, and aggravated identity theft. The scheme resulted in over $125 million in illegally won contracts for government construction projects, including embassies, consulates, military posts, and marine barracks worldwide. 

He misrepresented his company’s ownership, his employees’ qualifications, his company’s construction experience, and his company’s financial condition, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.

Moayedi also paid cash bribes and kickbacks to a U.S. State Department engineer, May Salehi, to secure confidential bid information. Salehi was previously sentenced to one year in prison, three years of supervised release, a fine of $500,000, and forfeiture of $60,000.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “From 1995 until 2021, Sina Moayedi defrauded the U.S. government and various of its agencies through a sprawling, sophisticated scheme. Moayedi lied repeatedly about his company’s ownership and qualifications, including by claiming that it was woman-owned and Hispanic-owned; he lied to obtain a top-secret national security clearance; and he repeatedly paid bribes to a State Department employee to illegally obtain inside information. 

"In total, Moayedi’s company fraudulently obtained more than 25 government contracts worth more than $125 million. Even after he was arrested in this case, Moayedi continued to commit crime, destroying electronic evidence of his frauds. For his brazen fraud on the federal government, Moayedi has now been sentenced to prison.”

Lies, Bribes and Fraud

According to court filings and statements, Moayedi repeatedly asserted that Montage was a female- or female- and minority-owned business, despite owning, running and controlling the business himself, to secure bid advantages. In 2016, he told a bank that inquired about the ownership status, “I am the sole owner and president of Montage and have always been.” 

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To meet State Department and contractual requirements, Moayedi significantly overstated his employee’s qualifications, including falsified engineering degrees and claims that certain individuals worked for Montage, when they did not.

Moayedi created fraudulent email accounts and personas to cover his tracks and “vouch” for his prior work. He created fake web domains, with one character or word different from real domains, to ensure the people or companies appeared legitimate.

Moayedi also paid a CPA to maintain various fraudulent sets of books and records – one for the U.S. government, another for the bank, and a third for the construction bond company. These misrepresentations allowed him to secure multimillion-dollar credit extensions in or around 2014 and 2019 based on the value, progress, status and existence of purportedly lucrative “classified” government construction projects.

And to ensure his eligibility for these sensitive U.S. government contracts, Moayedi lied to obtain and maintain his top-secret national security clearance, including his dual citizenship with Iran, his Iranian passport, and his travel to Iran.

Between 2014 and 2020, Moayedi sent cash bribes and kickbacks to Salehi in exchange for insider information on State Department projects in Ecuador, Spain and Bermuda. Information Salehi provided enabled Moayedi to raise his bid by nearly $1 million while remaining the lowest bidder on a project that was ultimately awarded to Montage. Moayedi paid Salehi $60,000 in cash in 2016 and 2017 for the confidential bid information.  

Work performed by Montage was of poor quality, with the company using substandard materials, unqualified personnel and falsifying an architect’s signature and stamp on architectural plans. The plans were not reviewed for safety and structural issues, such as fire protection, roof design, and structural steel drawings.

Obstruction of Justice

In September 2021, shortly after his release on bail in this case, Moayedi destroyed electronic evidence of his fraud, pressured a co-conspirator to lie to investigators and lied during a sworn deposition in 2019.

The case was brought in front of the court in October 2023. The court determined that Moayedi “provided grossly inadequate construction for several of the contracts of which he was in charge” and “that these numerous defects were intentional.”

The court found he repeatedly “falsely inflated the credentials of key personnel -- and in some cases, submitted names of people who never even worked for Montage -- that he touted to the State Department to win bids, only to send in their stead people that he knew were patently unqualified for their roles once he secured the contract in question.”