Two employees responsible for construction contracts at a military base near Charleston are headed to prison after they pleaded guilty Friday to demanding and receiving kickbacks from contractors.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced a judge handed down the sentences Friday against Joint Base Charleston government contracting officer Barbara Powell and Joseph Hamrick, the quality control officer for the base’s primary contractor. Powell was sentenced to six months in prison, while Hamrick received a year.
Both Hamrick and Powell are civilians who live in Goose Creek.
Prosecutors said Hamrick would demand subcontractors pay him kickbacks for him to approve their work at the base. As a quality control officer for the prime contractor Chugach, Inc., Hamrick had the authority to approve or disapprove a subcontractor’s work at and to slow payments to them. Court documents show investigators believe began demanding the payments in 2011 and continued until 2015.
Hamrick admitted receiving $40,000 for 40 kickbacks during his time working at the base, plus hundreds of free lunches and other gifts from businesses hoping to receive payment for construction work.
Powell’s duties included awarding and administering construction contracts to private companies for the federal government. Prosecutors say she sought out and received dozens of bribes from subcontractors between 2011 and 2015. The value of the bribes exceeded $15,000. In return for these bribes, Powell steered projects towards those subcontractors and forwarded others’ bid proposals to them, according to court documents. As a contracting officer for the federal government, it is illegal for Powell to provide confidential pricing information to anyone outside the government.
Joint Base Charleston was formed in 2010 when the Naval Weapons Station and the Charleston Air Force base merged.