A Georgia subcontractor has pleaded guilty in federal court to helping steal more than $5 million from an experimental nuclear project through fake invoices and reimbursements.
67-year-old Phillip Thompson pleaded guilty on Monday to a charge of conspiracy to commit theft of government funds. Prosecutors said Thompson admitted that he and another man conspired to defraud the government by creating fraudulent invoices for payment of what appeared to be goods needed for work at the Mixed Oxide Fuel (MOX) Fabrication Facility at the Savannah River Site. He further admitted that no goods were ever received and that the loss in the case was over $5 million.
Thompson led Wise Services, which was a subcontractor working on construction at the MOX facility that will eventually convert former nuclear warheads into reactor fuel. Prosecutors said Thompson used his company to create invoices for nonexistent goods and services and get reimbursed by the site’s lead contractor MOX Services. MOX Services is itself under contract with the federal government.
Prosecutors said Thompson conspired with another business owner Aaron Vennefron to create the phony invoices.
He will be sentenced at a later date. Thompson faces up to five years in prison and $250,000 in fines plus reimbursing the falsely-invoiced money.
The MOX Project has climbed well over budget and fallen years behind schedule. The Obama Administration moved to halt construction of the project, but Congress objected, funding its construction at a scaled-back level for the past three years.