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Former NFL player sentenced for fraud conspiracy against Metro

The Washington Post logo The Washington Post 12/15/2020 Rachel Weiner

A former professional football player was sentenced to six months of home confinement for participating in a scheme to defraud the D.C. Metro system through his Leesburg, Va., janitorial supply company.

Brian Carpenter, 60, admitted in federal court in Alexandria earlier this year that he charged the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority for at least $330,000 in cleaning products he never delivered, splitting the profit with employees who were in on the scheme.

“Mr. Carpenter takes responsibility for his role in the offense, wants to improve his life and contribute constructively to his family and his community,” defense attorney Pleasant Brodnax wrote in a sentencing memorandum. Carpenter has paid $25,000 toward his $330,000 restitution.

But Brodnax also argued that WMATA allowed for advance payment for supplies and that Carpenter merely “exploited a loophole in that procurement policy.”

In an interview, Carpenter said that it was a Metro manager who approached him with the idea of paying for supplies in advance and that he didn’t understand it to be criminal. That employee cooperated in the prosecution of Carpenter and was given two weeks in prison earlier this year.

Carpenter said he had contracted with many D.C. agencies without incident but understood that he made a mistake getting involved in this scheme.

“It’s been the worst experience of my life,” he said, adding that he was grateful to his attorneys for the outcome. “I regret that as long as it went on, I should have said no.”

The conspiracy lasted about two years before attracting the attention of investigators. Prosecutors said Carpenter used different credit card processors to avoid attracting attention and during an internal investigation tried to cover his tracks by delivering a large supply of the missing products and submitting altered invoices.

Prosecutors disagreed with Carpenter’s interpretation of the case, writing in court records that “to date, the United States has found no such [procurement] policy. Even if such a policy existed, it is certainly not a basis to lie, cover up, and to conceal a crime by providing fictitious, altered invoices to WMATA.”

Carpenter played football for the University of Michigan before going on to play in the early 1980s as a cornerback for what is now the Washington Football Team, as well as the New York Giants and Buffalo Bills. His first janitorial supply company went bankrupt in 2010, a few years before the fraud, but he was able to rebuild it.

“Simply put, the defendant had the life skills and the business acumen to start multiple businesses but rather than rely upon his experience, he chose to turn to fraud,” prosecutors wrote to the court. They had asked for a six-month prison term.

Carpenter asked for home confinement, citing his increased risk of complications should he contract covid-19 in prison. A football injury left him with a collapsed lung that required surgery, and he uses a continuous positive airway pressure machine to sleep.

Judge Liam O’Grady sided with the defense, giving Carpenter 50 hours of community service along with the home confinement.

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