Two officials at a Texas Army depot and two vendors who sold items to the depot were sentenced Tuesday for their role in a bribery scheme involving artificial bids for the depot’s purchases.
Jeffrey Harrison, 44, and Justin Bishop, 52, were vendors to the Red River Army Depot near Texarkana, according to a Justice Department news release. They submitted false bids to the man at the center of the scheme, Jimmy Scarbrough, 69, the equipment mechanic supervisor at RRAD.
Scarbrough steered purchases toward the vendors in exchange for bribes that included antique-car modifications and donations to his volunteer fire department, according to court documents.
Harrison was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison and ordered to forfeit $300,000. Bishop was sentenced to 12 months and one day in federal prison and ordered to forfeit $55,000.
Devin McEwin, 43, and Louis Singleton, 64, received bribes as RRAD officials. They were each sentenced to five years of federal probation, including eight months of home confinement.
McEwin was also ordered to forfeit $21,000 and pay a fine of $5,000. Singleton — who was responsible for approving purchases requested by Scarbrough, according to the Justice Department — was ordered to forfeit $18,000.
The four men sentenced Tuesday pleaded guilty in April and May of 2021. Scarbrough pleaded guilty in August of this year and is awaiting sentencing, according to the Justice Department.
From 2015 to 2019, according to court documents, Scarbrough directed Harrison and Bishop to submit bids for depot purchases, telling them specific prices they should include in their bids. By collecting fake bids from multiple vendors, Scarbrough ensured that the vendor he favored would win, while making it seem that the process was competitive.
For some purchases, the process was so phony that the vendors didn’t even deliver the items the depot had paid for, according to court documents.
In return, Scarbrough solicited more than $300,000 in bribes from Harrison and Bishop, according to the Justice Department.
Harrison gave Scarbrough at least $116,000 in money orders, which the depot official often used for his collection of cars modified for speed, known as hot rods. In one instance, Scarbrough paid $9,000 in money orders for new chrome trim for his red and black 1936 Ford Tudor, according to court documents. He had the word “Velocity” — his name for the car — etched onto the trim.
Bishop presented Scarbrough with more than $27,000 in antique guns, including a Colt revolver and Wurfflein dueling pistols, according to court documents.
In addition, Scarbrough got the vendors to donate to the volunteer fire department where he was captain of operations.
McEwin and Singleton also received bribes from Harrison.
Like Scarbrough, McEwin directed the bribes toward a local volunteer fire department and refurbishments on his antique car, according to the Justice Department. He also accepted hunting trips, the department said.
Singleton received from Harrison and others more than $18,000 in bribes — including club seats at a Dallas Cowboys football game versus the New England Patriots, according to the department.
The case was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Texas.
“The Red River Army Depot is a key component of our nation’s defense infrastructure and is the lifeblood of the surrounding community,” said U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas Brit Featherston in the Justice Department release. “Scarbrough, Harrison, Bishop, McEwin, Singleton and others exploited the public trust in order to line their own pockets and undermined the warfighting mission of the Depot in the process.”
Lawyers for the four men sentenced Tuesday did not respond by late Thursday afternoon to requests for comment sent that morning.
The Red River Army Depot maintains and rebuilds Army equipment. Its motto is “Building it as if our lives depend on it… theirs do!”
Irene Loewenson is an editorial fellow at Military Times and Defense News. A native New Yorker, she is a recent graduate of Williams College, where she was the editor-in-chief of the student newspaper.