The former range director at Hawaii’s Schofield Barracks pleaded guilty Tuesday to accepting more than $100,000 in bribes from a civilian contractor who helped steer $19 million in government contracts to his employer, according to court filings.
Victor Garo, 67, of Mililani, Hawaii, accepted bribes — which included cash, automobiles and firearms — from a senior employee of REK Associates while working for Schofield Barracks in Oahu.
Garo is the second public official and third individual to plead guilty as a result of an ongoing investigation into fraud and bribery at Schofield Barracks between roughly 2015 and 2018, U.S. Justice Department officials said.
The bribes accepted by Garo, as well as those fed to another former range manager at Schofield Barracks named Franklin Raby, 67, helped award $19 million in contracts to REK Associates. The veteran-owned range and environment construction company is registered in Virginia but has its offices in Maine.
Raby, who is a retired Army sergeant major, pleaded guilty to conspiring to accept bribes in May. The REK Associates employee facilitating the bribes, John Winslett, pleaded in late September to conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud and conspiracy to accept kickbacks in connection with a government contract.
Among the bribes offered to Garo and Raby were a 2017 Jeep Rubicon, an antique 1969 Ford Galaxie, a Harley Davidson motorcycle, diamond earrings worth more than $2,000, and firearms to include a Remington 12-gauge shotgun, a Gustav Genschow & Co. 22 long rifle and a Mauser Model M98 375 caliber rifle, according to a forfeiture notice.
In exchange for the bribes, Garo and Raby would recommend that the Army use specific contract vehicles that all three men knew would make it more likely that the underlying contracts would be awarded in their favor, according to the court filings.
Court filings say that Garo also deleted a folder in 2019 on his computer containing documents related to his work on the range, “with the intent to impede,” the ongoing criminal investigation.
As an example of the sensitive information provided to Winslett, Raby sent in April 2018 documents containing the fiscal 2019 work plan for the U.S. Army Garrison of Hawaii.
Those documents included the confidential amount that the Army had budgeted for 13 projects valued at more than $7 million — information that could give an edge in bidding for government contracts.
The two range employees were effectively offering “sensitive procurement information and assistance in contracting” to Winslett that would help his company obtain a competitive edge in bidding on government contracts, according to court filings.
Winslett also arranged for Raby to receive a job at his employer immediately following his retirement from the U.S. Defense Department’s civil service. Raby took a position as a program manager for REK Associates in the summer of 2018.
Winslett also admitted that he accepted more than $700,000 in kickbacks from a local company in exchange for subcontracts. That local subcontractor does not appear to be yet named in court filings.
Garo and Raby are scheduled for sentencing in March, while Winslett is scheduled to be sentenced in January.
REK Associates did not respond to a request for comment by Army Times. Attorneys for the three men who pleaded guilty also did not respond to a request for comment.
Kyle Rempfer is an editor and reporter whose investigations have covered combat operations, criminal cases, foreign military assistance and training accidents. Before entering journalism, Kyle served in U.S. Air Force Special Tactics and deployed in 2014 to Paktika Province, Afghanistan, and Baghdad, Iraq.