The U.S. Justice Department said it had charged a former fuel company owner with providing kickbacks to secure a contract with Ryan International Airlines.
Authorities said Floridian Sean Wagner, former owner and operator of two fuel companies, provided more than $200,000 in the form of checks, gifts, money cards, cash and wire transfers to Wayne Kepple, the former vice president of ground operations for Ryan in charge of contracting with providers of goods and services.
Prosecutors said Ryan International, which is based in Illinois, provided airline service for private and public customers, including the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Marshals Service.
That crossed a line, said Bill Baer, assistant attorney general in charge of the Justice Department's Antitrust Division.
"The Antitrust Division will take enforcement action against those who subvert the competitive process by trading contracts for kickbacks, especially where the U.S. government is being victimized," Baer said, noting that defrauding the government meant defrauding taxpayers.
Wagner was arrested on July 19 in Weston, Fla., on a one-count criminal complaint to commit wire fraud and honest services fraud.
If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 criminal fine, although the fine may be increased to twice what was gained through wrongdoing or twice the loss suffered by victims in the case if either of those is more than the maximum statutory fine.