DENVER (CBS4) — Two businessmen and an employee of the Department of Veterans Affairs exposed by federal agents in an undercover operation have all pleaded guilty for their roles in a conspiracy. The first of them to be sentenced, 45-year-old Anthony Bueno of Brighton, received his penalty Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Denver.
Bueno was immediately taken into custody to begin serving his 30-month sentence.
Dwane Nevins, 55, and Robert Revis, 61, are scheduled for sentencing in February and March, respectively.
According to their 2018 federal indictment, Revis, owner of Arvada-based Auxilious, a construction management company, and Buenos, his employee, arranged to confine contracts with the VA to companies they represented. As well, they would receive kickbacks through the contracts or direct bribes.
Nevins was in on the ploy.
As a small business specialist at the VA’s Network Contracting Office at 4100 East Mississippi Avenue, Nevins’s role was to advise potential contractors – specifically, small businesses owned by service-disabled veterans – of ways to improve their chances of obtaining contracts with the VA. The VA is required by law to prioritize its assignment of such contracts, according to the indictment.
However, Nevins conspired to control the process and lied to his VA supervisors to conceal the operation.
“A purpose of the conspiracy,” the indictment states, “was for Dwane Nevins, Anthony Bueno, and Robert Revis to use Nevin’s official position in the VA to benefit and enrich themselves by seeking and receiving payments from clients interested in obtaining corrupt advantages over competitors pursuing VA contracts.”
Additionally, the indictment continued, Nevins, Bueno and Revis design the scheme with the intent “to further benefit and enrich themselves by fraudulently corrupting the VA bidding process to greatly increase the likelihood that an Auxilious client would win VA contracts.”
Unknown to them, Nevins, Bueno and Revis were working with an undercover agent who represented himself as a small business owner seeking precisely that type of unfair advantage.
Bueno, at one point, told the agent the scheme permitted the trio to “own all the dogs on the track,” meaning their clients were guaranteed to get the contracts.
The indictment also alleged that Nevins, after complaining about not being paid by Revis and Bueno for his participation in the scheme, used his official position at the VA to extort approximately $10,000 from the undercover FBI agent, telling the agent that “the train don’t go without me. You know what I mean? I’m the engine. I’m the caboose. I’m the engine room.”
Nevins also allegedly told the undercover FBI agent “this is a business and businessmen need to get paid….so I can have my Christmas, you know what I’m saying?”
The three men were arrested in September of 2018.
A year later, Nevins pleaded guilty to every count of the indictment: Multiple counts of conspiracy, receiving bribes, extortion, and criminal conflicts of interests.
Robert Revis pleaded guilty in April 2019 to a single count of supplementing the salary of a federal official.
“As today’s sentencing of Anthony Bueno demonstrates,” said FBI Denver Special Agent in Charge Dean Phillips, “we will continue to hold accountable those individuals who, at the expense of our veterans and taxpayers, engage in corrupt schemes to defraud the government.”
“This sentence,” aid Gregg Hirstein, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General, “illustrates the serious consequences of undermining the federal contracting process. We will always hold accountable those who seek to corrupt the VA’s business practices.”
The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Bryan D. Fields and Hetal J. Doshi.