Former D.C. Official Pleads Guilty to Corruption, Admits to Manipulating Government Contracts for Personal Gain

Bridgette Crowell (Credit: LinkedIn)

Bridgette Crowell, a former official within the District of Columbia’s Office of Contracting and Procurement (OCP) and previously at the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), pleaded guilty on Thursday for her involvement in a scheme where she manipulated government contracts for personal gain.

The 39-year-old Laurel, Maryland resident admitted to a one-count criminal Information charging her with conspiracy to commit wire and honest services fraud. Sentencing is scheduled for September 6, 2024, according to DOJ.

Joining Crowell in her corrupt endeavors, Obinna Ogbu, 52, of Silver Spring, Maryland, also entered a guilty plea for his role in the fraudulent activities, both at WMATA and OCP. Meanwhile, Ifediora Oli, another accomplice, has pled not guilty, with his case still pending before the courts.

According to court documents, Crowell began working at OCP in 2019 as a contracting specialist after serving as a contract administrator at WMATA. It was during her time at WMATA that she first met co-conspirators Ogbu and Oli.

While at OCP, Crowell misused her official position by alerting her co-conspirators to upcoming solicitations; providing them with non-public information about the solicitations, including contract pricing; and helping their companies secure government contracts.

According to the press release:

Crowell began working at the District’s Office of Contracting and Procurement (OCP) in 2019 as a contracting specialist. Before that, she worked at WMATA as a contract administrator. Crowell first met her co-conspirators when working at WMATA.

Ogbu was a WMATA employee. Oli was an employee at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, but separately held himself out as the Principal of Highbury Global Group, Inc. (Highbury).

By 2021, Crowell understood that her co-conspirators had orchestrated a bribery scheme in which Ogbu received things of value for misusing his position at WMATA and steering WMATA-related business opportunities to Oli and Highbury.

While at OCP, Crowell agreed to steer government contracts to Highbury and another company created by Ogbu, The Nupath Company (Nupath), in exchange for things of value.

Crowell misused her official position at OCP by, among other things: alerting her co-conspirators to upcoming solicitations; providing them with non-public information about the solicitations, including information regarding contract pricing; helping Highbury and Nupath secure government contracts; and taking multiple steps to conceal her personal connections to Highbury and Nupath.

Crowell’s misconduct led to Highbury obtaining a $630,000 contract with the District to provide the District’s Department of Forensic Sciences (DFS) with COVID-19 Testing Supplies; Nupath receiving a $27,000 contract to provide the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) with certain equipment; and Nupath being awarded a nearly $850,000 contract to provide MPD with assistance carrying out pre-employment suitability background investigations for officer candidates.

For her official actions and participation in the fraudulent schemes, Crowell received things of value from her co-conspirators, including as much as $10,000 cash per month, a new car, and assistance with closing costs for a new home.

As part of his guilty plea, Ogbu admitted that his misconduct began in 2018 and ultimately resulted in Highbury and Nupath receiving roughly $2 million in funds originating from WMATA and District contracts.

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