A former Special Forces soldier who heads a Boston-based international security company was indicted with two other former servicemen in Utah on charges of rigging multimillion-dollar military contracts for their personal gain.
Michael L. Taylor, 51, and his company, American International Security Corp. were named in a 72-count indictment alleging they unlawfully obtained secret information about military bid requirements in Afghanistan to gain an advantage over competitors and win contracts that grew in value to $54 million.
Taylor and his codefendants are accused of pocketing $20 million by funneling funds from the contracts to outside companies that would benefit them.
He faces multiple charges of conspiracy to defraud the government, procurement fraud, wire fraud, money laundering, and bribery of a public official. Some of the charges carry prison sentences of up to 30 years.
Taylor is slated to initially appear at a federal court in Salt Lake City in September.
“This investigation should serve as a warning for those intent on defrauding the US military and American public that law enforcement will pursue these crimes relentlessly,” said Janice M. Flores, special agent in charge of the Southwest office of the Department of Defense’s defense criminal investigative service.
Taylor’s lawyer denied the charges, saying that his client ran a legitimate business that provided a service.
“Nowhere in the assertions in the indictment does it say the work wasn’t done,” said his attorney, Steven Brooks of Boston. “The work was done. It was done exceedingly well. We have letters of recommendation for Mr. Taylor and [his company’s] work in Afghanistan, and rather than being praised for the efforts, my client has been indicted.”
He said Taylor has run a reputable company for more than 20 years, and that he and his family live in Massachusetts. He has been living here, “except for the time he was serving his country in the Special Forces,” he said. Taylor was raised in Ayer, though Brooks did not say where he is living now.
He said Taylor is looking forward to challenging the accusations and denied that he unlawfully obtained information about bid processes.
“We think this is totally unjust,” he said. “We think this is fundamentally unfair and is not appropriate as a matter of fact and law, and we intend to prove this in court. We feel strongly about that.”
In court papers, prosecutors say Taylor conspired with an active Army Reserve lieutenant colonel, David Young, to obtain information about bid requirements for contracts to supply equipment and training to Afghanistan’s Army. Young, 49, of Florida, oversaw a Special Forces unit that was working to transfer military responsibility to Afghan forces at the time of the alleged crimes in 2007.
Federal prosecutors in Utah say Young was considered a public official in that he took responsibility for the US Army in overseeing a contract for supplies and equipment and for the training of Afghan troops to manage that equipment.
The prosecutors say he in turn provided information – such as the Army’s price estimates and selection criteria – to Taylor, whom he had known though their military service. Young also knew a third defendant, Christopher Harris, 48, of Arizona, whom Taylor hired to manage the company’s operations in Afghanistan.
Using the secret information, Taylor’s company had an advantage and ultimately won the contracts, prosecutors say.
Investigators are hoping to seize more than $6 million in funds, approximately 20 houses in Utah, Florida, Arizona, and New Hampshire, as well as several cars, a boat, and an airplane that they say were bought with profits from the alleged crimes.
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