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Cannon Design agrees to $12 million penalty

Cannon Design will pay $12 million to the federal government and separate itself from a Veterans Affairs project in California, according to prosecutors in Ohio.

The agreement, announced Wednesday, ends the government’s prosecution of Cannon, a global architecture and engineering company with offices in Grand Island, and resolves the allegations that more than a dozen employees engaged in criminal conduct, including paying bribes and kickbacks, to obtain confidential information about VA construction projects.

The $12 million penalty follows the conviction of Cannon executive Mark Farmer on 14 counts related to his dealings with a VA official in Cleveland. Farmer was sentenced to nearly three years in prison.

The VA official, William D. Montague, former director of the Dayton Veterans Affairs Medical Center, was also convicted in connection with the case. He was sentenced to nearly five years in prison after being found guilty of 64 charges, including money laundering and wire fraud.

Prosecutors say Montague, Farmer and Cannon conspired to defraud the VA through bribery and kickbacks, and that Montague secretly used his position at the Medical Center to enrich himself.

They also claim Montague solicited money and a consulting contract from Cannon and, in return, provided information about VA contracts and projects.

The goal, according to the government, was to give Cannon an edge over its competitors.

“Companies must never benefit by using public officials to obtain a competitive business advantage,” Stephen D. Anthony, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Cleveland Office, said in a statement Wednesday.

The multi-million penalty against Cannon is the result of an investigation by the FBI and U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General, and a prosecution by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Cleveland.

email: pfairbanks@buffnews.com

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