A former employee of the Naval Information Warfare Center, James Soriano, has been indicted on charges of accepting bribes to steer Federal government contracts, according to a sealed indictment filed in California. The US Justice Department alleges Soriano accepted “free dinners at San Diego restaurants including De Medici Cucina, the University Club and Bluewater Boathouse Grill and Ruth’s Chris in Virginia as well as tickets to the 2018 World Series and the 2019 Super Bowl,” in exchange for Soriano “falsifying government paperwork” to help a defense contractor win contracts.

In July of 2021, Oxebridge reported that Soriano was the person listed as “Individual-1” in another criminal case, United States v. Liberty Gutierrez.  Defendant Gutierrez pleaded guilty to having been paid for jobs at three different defense contractors for work she never performed, as a result of bribes made to Soriano. Oxebridge identified Cask Government Services as the company referred to as “Contractor-1” in the Federal court filings.

In that case, Gutierrez revealed that Cask bribed Soriano in order to have Soriano use his role at SPAWAR to steer contracts toward Cask. Soriano did so, and Gutierrez earned nearly $600,000 in fake salaries. Gutierrez then claimed she shared her illegal salary payments with Soriano, who hid some of the money in a “golf bag.”

To date, however, the DOJ has not made arrests of Cask’s senior management, Elizabeth Guezzale and Mark Larson, one of whom is likely the person referred to as “Individual-2” in the US v Gutierrez case files. The government has put off sentencing Gutierrez, apparently as they seek to build a case to go after Cask’s management and Soriano.

In a docket entry dated last week in the US v Gutierrez case, a Notice of Change of Hearing has been filed, but is not yet publicly accessible. The filing suggests, however, that new activities in that case are underway.

The waiting appears to have paid off, at least in the DoJ’s pursuit of Soriano. According to the latest DoJ press release, Soriano’s indictment under US v James Soriano, for bribery related to another defense contractor, Intellipeak Solutions.

In a separate criminal case, the DOJ indicted one of Soriano’s co-workers, Dawnell Parker, for similar alleged crimes. In the DOJ announcement for that case, US v. Parker, the DOJ announced that Parker pleaded guilty to bribery charges. Parker admitted, “that while she was a public official at Naval Information Warfare Center in San Diego, she accepted thousands of dollars in free meals from defense contractors in exchange for helping them win and maintain millions of dollars in government contracts.”

The filing in US v Parker also claims that the defendant admitted to receiving additional bribes from “a different defense contractor, with offices in San Diego, California, and Stafford, Virginia, who also gave her things of value including expensive meals.” The addresses align with the offices of Cask Government Services and its sister company, Cask NX.

Taken together, the pieces form a net around one or both of Cask’s executives.

Ties to CMMC Corruption

Cask fell under Oxebridge’s scrutiny when complaints were filed in the Oxebridge ISO Whistleblower Reporting tool, after Cask appeared to have gotten fast-track approval for CMMC C3PAO assessor status by the Cyber AB (formerly CMMC AB). As reported by Oxebridge in December of 2021, Cask employee Stacy High-Brinkley previously worked alongside CMMC-AB former Board Chair Ty Schieber at QinetiQ. Cask was later given front-line status to receive some of the first Provisional Assessor badges, and then received one of the first C3PAO accreditations.

Schieber previously worked with the DoD’s original CMMC architect, Katie Arrington. Both the DoD and Cyber AB have maintained it was a “coincidence” that Arrington’s former boss — Schieber — ended up running the Cyber AB created by her office at DoD. Schieber then attempted to run a $500,000-per-person donation program at the Cyber AB, which many saw as a pay-to-play scam. Arrington defended Schieber, and refused to investigate, but he was ejected by the AB’s board after Oxebridge’s reporting was picked up by mainstream outlets like Washington Post.

Schieber also lied on the AB’s official CAGE code application, attesting the group was a non-profit when — at the time — it was not. Lying on CAGE code “certs and reps” documentation is a felony, but — again — Arrington refused to investigate. She instead issued threats against Oxebridge and other whistleblowers on LinkedIn and Twitter. A whistleblower reprisal complaint was also tossed out by the DoD’s IG office, in an apparent attempt to protect Arrington.

Even after Cask was identified as being the company named in the US v Gutierrez case, the Cyber AB refused to look into whether Cask violated the group’s code of ethics. Instead, a Cyber AB representative claimed to Oxebridge that Cask was awarded the C3PAO status based on a self-declaration that it was not involved in any ethical breaches.

The award of C3PAO status to Cask is concerning, since it means the Cyber AB is allowing a company that is accused of having illegally steered government contracts to itself to now hold authority over other companies’ access to the same contracts. As a CMMC C3PAO, Cask will have an important hand in deciding who gets CMMC certified, and thus who has access to contracts that it, itself, may be competing for. The Cyber AB has refused to acknowledge the matter.

Oxebridge has maintained that the ties between Arrington, Schieber, and Cask executives violate multiple Federal laws, but the DoD and its Inspector General’s office have routinely swatted down official ethics complaints.

If Cask executives are arrested, as expected, the move will highlight the fact that the DoD and Cyber AB, have had years to clean shop, but consistently refused to do so.

The CMMC program is still scheduled to roll out in the coming few years, under a heavy cloud of allegations of fraud, corruption, cronyism and abuse.


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