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Former State Department Employee Pleads Guilty to Procurement Fraud

The official had a social relationship with a furniture manufacturing executive, with whom she shared confidential contract information.

A former State Department official pleaded guilty last week to disclosing confidential proposal bids in an attempt to help a furniture company executive win a $1.56 million contract.

In December 2016, Patricia DeLaughter, former manager of the department’s Overseas Office Furniture Program, was working to solicit proposals for furnishing a new U.S. embassy when she and another department official knowingly disclosed the confidential bid prices and design plans of competitors to Steven Anstine, vice president of sales for an Overland Park, Kansas, manufacturing company, according to the Justice Department. Multiple news outlets, including The Post and Courier, identified the company as Bernhardt Furniture.

Delaughter and Anstine had a social relationship, according to Justice. They attended dinners, concerts and sporting events together and Anstine paid for a portion of DeLaughter’s expenses. “The information that DeLaughter and her coworker gave Anstine enabled him and his company to win the contract with a bid of approximately $1.56 million,” the department stated. 

In the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, DeLaughter pled guilty to one count of illegally disclosing contractor bid or proposal information. She will be sentenced on Nov. 8 and faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

She acknowledged that she lied to agents during the investigation and to State Department officials about her involvement with the furniture contract and her relationship with Anstine. In June, Anstine pled guilty to obtaining the confidential bid proposals in the U.S. District Court of South Carolina.

According to a Justice Department press release, he intentionally made false statements during the investigation, lied to State officials that he did not knowingly receive the competitors’ bids and lied about paying expenses for for several State employees at various events. As of June 10, his sentencing was not scheduled.