Former University of Guam Professor and Co-Defendants Sentenced in Bid-Rigging Scheme
News release from US DoJ, Dec 9, 2021
Hagatña, Guam – SHAWN N. ANDERSON, United States Attorney for the Districts of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, announced that the following defendants were sentenced in the United States District Court of Guam for conspiracy to rig bids:
Thomas E. Marler, 62, of Piti, Guam, was sentenced to 12 months and 1 day of imprisonment for Conspiracy to Restrain Trade, in violation of 15 U.S.C. § 3, Money Laundering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1957 and 2, and Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956(h). The court ordered 2 years of supervised release, a fine of $20,000, and a special assessment fee of $300.
John Hobart “Bart” Lawrence, 62, of Gresham, Oregon was sentenced to 4 months of imprisonment for Conspiracy to Restrain Trade, in violation of 15 U.S.C. § 3 and Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C.§§ 1349 and 1343. The court ordered 1 year of supervised release, a $4,000 fine, and a special assessment fee of $200
Jayanika Lawrence, 33, of Gresham, Oregon was sentenced to one year probation for Unlawfully Cutting Trees on United States Lands, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1853. The court ordered a $25 special assessment fee.
From November 2014 to June 2015, Thomas E. Marler conspired with John Hobart Lawrence and Jayanika Lawrence to rig bids for federally-funded project work pursuant to cooperative agreements between the federal government and the University of Guam (UOG). During this time, Marler was a Professor at UOG as well as the Principal Investigator for certain federally-funded cooperative agreements where his responsibilities included bidding out and awarding project work in compliance with UOG’s procurement process. However, instead of soliciting bids from the Guam community, Marler produced fictitious bids in order to make the procurement process appear legitimate and awarded the project work to Isla Paraiso, a company controlled by Marler, and to Sansar Consulting, a company owned by Jayanika Lawrence and operated with the help of John Lawrence, Marler’s longtime friend and associate. During the time of the conspiracy, the defendants fraudulently obtained over $200,000 in project work.
“A competitive bidding process promotes fairness among those seeking government funded projects,” stated United States Attorney Anderson. “It also ensures that taxpayers are getting the most value for their money. The defendants’ actions undermined this process to the detriment of others, including UOG. Our office applauds our federal partners for their hard work in bringing these defendants to justice.”
"Thomas Marler used his position as principal investigator between the University of Guam and the Department of the Navy to manipulate governmental contracts that were favorable to Isla Paraiso, a company he controlled," said FBI Special Agent in Charge Steven Merrill. "Marler and his associate, John Lawrence, conspired to restrain trade to benefit themselves and then Marler laundered the proceeds of this crime. This investigation into the activities of Thomas Marler and his co-conspirators, John and Jayanika Lawrence, sends a clear message that the FBI, working with our federal partners in the Internal Revenue Service and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, will continue to hold individuals accountable when they violate federal laws and to protect the integrity of the federal government's contract process."
“Mr. Marler, Mr. Lawrence, and Ms. Lawrence conspired together out of greed to unfairly profit themselves, and they did so at the expense of other businesses operating in an honest manner” said Bret Kressin, IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Special Agent in Charge, Seattle Field Office. “Fair business practices exist to promote opportunities for everyone, and IRS-CI will continue to investigate those who cheat and choose not to play fairly.”
The underlying investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, and Naval Criminal Investigative Service. The case was prosecuted by Benjamin K. Petersburg, Assistant United States Attorney in the District of Guam.