Strippers, Drugs, and PGA Tickets: USDA Contractor Admits to Giving Gifts to USDA Officials

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A 60-year-old Virginia resident Eric Schneider pled guilty on Friday to conspiracy to violate the Procurement Integrity Act and to obstruction of justice, according to a Department of Justice (DOJ) press release.

“Schneider admitted to giving gifts to multiple officials at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to influence the award of contracts worth over $19.2 million to [Communications Resource, Inc. (CRI)] and another company he controlled,” the press release states. “Schneider admitted to giving USDA officials Corvette wheels, concert tickets, PGA tour tickets, meals, alcohol, strip clubs, parking, concierge medical services, prescription drugs, and other cash tips.”

According to the press release, Schneider is the former Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer of CRI.

The DOJ press release states: “Schneider further admitted that, as part of the conspiracy, he drafted or instructed employees to draft procurement documents in such a way as to favor the award of a multi-million dollar contract to CRI. Schneider then provided the documents to a USDA official to whom he provided gifts, for use in the procurement process as if they had been prepared by the USDA.”

“Schneider also admitted to directing two CRI employees to destroy documents responsive to a federal grand jury subpoena,” the DOJ press release adds. No sentencing date is scheduled yet.

One 2018 CRI press release lists Schneider as primary contact, and announces the company won a USDA security system and testing contract. “In an effort to support regulatory mandates, CRI was chosen to enhance security, efficiency and compliance, by implementing comprehensive alarm system testing, maintenance, preventive maintenance, troubleshooting and technical support for specific facilities.”

According to CRI press releases, the company has received multiple awards from the USDA. “Communications Resource Inc. (CRI) announced today that it has been named the Small Business of the Year by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA),” states one 2009 press release.

The company has also served several other government departments. A 2020 CRI press release states, “CRI, a certified woman-owned small business (WOSB), headquartered in McLean, Virginia, has supported the federal government for over 25 years.” The release lists several specialties focused on technology and physical security.

CRI President Victoria Johnson told The Virginia Star in an email, “Mr. Schneider has not been employed by our company for some time.”

She added, “We have already distanced ourselves from Mr. Schneider, whose actions do not mirror our culture and values. CRI is committed to conducting its business with the highest legal and ethical standards and our performance as a federal contractor continues to receive high ratings throughout the industry.”

The USDA did not respond to a request for comment.

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Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and the Star News Digital Network.  Email tips to [email protected]

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