Washington, DC - The vice president of sales for an American furniture manufacturer pleaded guilty Monday for obtaining his competitors’ confidential bid proposals in an effort to win a State Department contract to provide furniture to a U.S. embassy abroad.
Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Sherri A. Lydon of the District of South Carolina and Department of State Inspector General Steve A. Linick made the announcement.
Steven Anstine, 52, of Overland Park, Kansas, pleaded guilty to one count of illegally obtaining contractor bid and proposal information before U.S. District Judge Richard M. Gergel of the District of South Carolina. Sentencing has not yet been scheduled.
According to admissions made in connection with Anstine’s plea, in or around December 2016, the State Department was constructing a new embassy in a foreign nation. Two State Department employees participated in the process of soliciting bid proposals from contractors for the procurement of furniture for the new embassy’s offices.
From in or around December 2016 to in or around March 2017, Anstine knowingly obtained bid prices and design plans of at least three of his and his company’s competitors from the two State Department employees. Anstine knowingly obtained this information in order to achieve a competitive advantage for himself and his company. The information Anstine obtained enabled him and his company to win the contract to provide the furniture for the new embassy with a bid of approximately $1,569,000.
According to Anstine’s admissions, Anstine made intentionally false statements to agents investigating his conduct. He falsely told State Department Office of Inspector General special agents that he did not knowingly receive competitor bid and proposal information from the two State Department employees. He also falsely told agents that, whenever he accompanied one of the State Department employees to events, restaurants or bars, the employee paid her share of the expenses. In fact, Anstine paid for at least a portion of the State Department employee’s expenses when they attended dinners, sporting events and concerts, including, but not limited to, a September 2016 concert in Washington, D.C.; a December 2015 ballet performance in Washington, D.C.; and a summer 2015 golf tournament in Gainsville, Virginia.
The State Department’s Office of Inspector General is investigating the case. Deputy Chief Robert J. Heberle and Trial Attorney John P. Taddei of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Marshall “Matt” Austin of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina are prosecuting the case.