Stone Cold Chemicals, (SCC), sells cleaning products to government agencies, and it is really cleaning up.
Company founder Thomas Stone admits to training his sales force to offer premiums (i.e., bribes and kickbacks) to government purchasing agents to induce them to buy SCC products at grossly inflated prices of up to twelve times their actual value. SCC then recorded the corrupt public workers and each premium paid on a catch report; and catch them it did when SCC officials agreed to testify against the public officials who refused to plead guilty to criminal wrongdoing.
SCC induced 21 year Maryland Department of Corrections employee Vivian Odom into making approximately $6,000 in purchases, including drain opener at $26 a bottle and de-icer at $20.97 per can. Odom also ordered paper towels called Wipeouts at $477 plus shipping while a Wipeouts company official was prepared to testify that sells the towels for one-ninth that price. SCC officials acknowledge routinely doubling the cost of shipping and using the money to fund the Companys health and dental plan.
Invoices show multiple purchases of the same product at about the same time. Between June 20 and 30, 2003, SCC billed the state for four shipments of Skidew Mildew Stain Remover at $2,636.
Odom bypassed preferred vendors of similar products who have a contract to provide the items at lower prices without free charges. She also broke up orders that would have totaled more than $1,000 into two lots to avoid a requirement for competitive bidding.
In return, SCC sent three Bass ProShop rod and reel sets worth about $100 total, fishing knives, a fishing toolkit, a scale, and other equipment, to Odoms residence. She also received a gift certificate from Victorias Secret, Outback Steakhouse, and Toys R Us.
Its sad to think that 20-and 25-year career people would succumb to such a petty bribe solicitation, said Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr., whose office prosecuted Odom. The bribes Odom accepted amounted to just a few hundred dollars worth of goods, according to Curran, but they cost her dearly. She lost her $41,641 per year job of 21 years and was sentenced to two years in prison, with all but 30 days suspended, two years of probation and a $500 fine.
SCCs activities have also snared Maryland Highway Administration employees, Georgia State and local government employees, Oregon Department of Transportation employees, a former Baker County, Oregon corrections deputy and Pennsylvania government employees. Meanwhile SCC officials have pled guilty to criminal charges in Florida, Georgia and other states, resulting in prison terms and probation.
Sources: The Baltimore Sun; The Oregonian
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