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Ex-VRE manager sentenced to 2 years in kickback scheme

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Local,Virginia,Transportation,Crime,Kytja Weir

A former Virginia Railway Express manager was sentenced Friday to two years behind bars for taking more than $350,000 in bribes from a subcontractor.

Kevin Wirth Jannell, 49, of Fredericksburg, Va., pleaded guilty in September to bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds. He could have faced as much as 10 years in federal prison but instead received the 24-month sentence, plus supervised release for two years. He also must pay the $357,000 he received and serve 100 hours of community service, according to the office of U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Neil H. MacBride.

As a facilities manager at the VRE commuter train service, Jannell took up to $4,000 per month from 2003 until March from an unnamed subcontractor that provided landscaping and maintenance at VRE facilities, according to court documents. In exchange, he gave them favorable evaluations that allowed them to keep the contract. He and his wife, Angela, then concealed the money by creating a company with her listed as president, billing the subcontractor each month. She used the money to pay for household bills and expenses, according to court records.

She pleaded guilty last month to helping conceal the bribes. She is slated to be sentenced in March and could face up to three years in prison for the single count of "misprision of a felony," which means failing to report knowledge of a crime.

"Bribes should never be just another cost of doing business with the government," MacBride said. "Kevin Jannell abused his position by padding his paycheck each month and playing favorites in a contracting process that should be honest and transparent. Today's sentence will go a long way toward rebuilding the public's trust and demonstrating that those who corrupt the contracting process will spend years in prison paying for their crimes."

The subcontractor was not named in the court records. But the work was part of a five-year contract given to NV Enterprises of Reston. In October, the VRE board voted to give NV a six-month extension on its contract, after agency staff assured board members that there was no indication NV was involved in the kickback scheme and could not legally be punished, according to VRE records. NV also had promised to hire a new subcontractor by Nov. 1.

kweir@washingtonexaminer.com

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