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Alleged ringleader in bribe scheme at Red River Army Depot pleads not guilty in Texarkana federal court

Conspiracy allegedly involved millions in outside government contracts by Lynn LaRowe | November 18, 2021 at 10:00 p.m.

TEXARKANA, Texas --The alleged mastermind of a years-long bribes for contracts scheme at Red River Army Depot pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges of conspiracy and bribery in a Texarkana federal court.

Jimmy Scarbrough, 69, of Hooks, Texas, was Equipment Mechanic Supervisor at RRAD from November 2001 until May 2019, according to a criminal complaint and an indictment filed in the Texarkana Division of the Eastern District of Texas. Scarbrough's position allegedly allowed him to take advantage of the Government Purchase Card, or GPC, process for years.

"Though Scarbrough did not formally have GPC authority, he found vendors, communicated directly with vendors and obtained quotes from vendors which the GPC purchasers then used," the complaint states. "Scarbrough was responsible for verifying the actual delivery of goods or services and signing the invoice."

Scarbrough appeared for arraignment Thursday morning before U.S. Magistrate Judge Caroline Craven on charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States, two counts of bribery and conspiracy to launder monetary instruments. Texarkana lawyer Matt Keil entered pleas of not guilty to all charges on Scarbrough's behalf. Scarbrough is also represented by Texarkana lawyer Erin Keil.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Hornok outlined the government's intent to seek Scarbrough's forfeiture of approximately $311,000 in U.S. currency and several classic cars Scarbrough allegedly purchased and restored using bribe money including a 1951 Ford F-1 truck, a 1932 Ford Coupe and a 1936 Ford Tudor.

Hornok noted that if convicted of bribery, Scarbrough will be barred from holding an office in a position of trust or authority with the government.

Craven scheduled Scarbrough for a jury trial in late January before U.S. District Judge Robert Schroeder III. Scarbrough will remain free while his case proceeds on an unsecured $20,000 appearance bond set for him by Craven at an initial appearance on the criminal complaint in May.

Three other men have pleaded guilty in the case and are awaiting sentencing.

Jeffery Harrison, 43, of Texarkana and Justin Bishop, 50, of Clarksville, Texas, entered pleas of guilty in May at hearings before Craven. Harrison and Bishop represented vendors seeking government contracts at the depot.

Devin McEwin, 41, entered a plea of guilty to bribery in June before Craven. McEwin was a public official whose duties at RRAD involved purchasing electrical supplies. McEwin accepted bribes of more than $21,000 from Jeffrey Harrison.

Harrison pleaded guilty to bribery May 18. Harrison's family's business, H&H Enterprises, bid on numerous contracts at RRAD. McEwin directed purchases to H&H in exchange for hunting trips to Ballinger, Texas, $19,000 in parts and service on his 1964 Ford truck and donations totaling $2,000 to the Annona, Texas, Volunteer Fire Department.

Bishop pleaded guilty the same day as Harrison.

Bishop's business, Maverick Services, received more than $1.1 million in purchases through Scarbrough at RRAD from June 2016 to April 2019.

Like Harrison, Bishop allegedly was told what to bid by Scarbrough and was aware that he would win some bids and lose others. In the case of a winning bid for Maverick, Scarbrough allegedly told Bishop what, if anything, to deliver.

"Scarbrough was the organizer and leader of the extensive criminal activity in which I was engaged. He concocted the scheme. He recruited me," a factual basis filed in Bishop's case states. "He told me how he wanted to receive bribes. And when I wanted to quit the scheme, he told me I could not stop because I was already in too deep."

Scarbrough allegedly directed Bishop to pay some bribes in the form of collectible firearms. A 2018 email allegedly recovered from Scarbrough's government computer lists 37 firearms, though fewer than that have been recovered. Scarbrough allegedly returned some of the firearms to Bishop after learning he was under investigation.

Harrison allegedly paid Scarbrough at least $116,000 in United States Postal Service money orders from February 2015 to April 2019. Scarbrough allegedly used the money orders to pay "hot rod shops" for work on his classic cars, including a 1936 Ford Tudor he named Velocity. Scarbrough allegedly used bribe money to pay $2,000 for a custom-made sign for display with Velocity and spent thousands more on a 1932 Ford Coupe and a 1951 Ford F-1 truck.

Harrison purchased food allegedly at Scarbrough's direction, which Scarbrough fed to employees in his building at RRAD.

"Scarbrough also directed Bishop and Harrison to make donations to the Hooks, Texas, Volunteer Fire Department while he served as Captain of Operations from 2009 through 2019," the complaint states.

Neither Bishop's nor Harrison's businesses are in Hooks.

Scarbrough is the only defendant who has not pleaded guilty in the case. A notice of punishment in Bishop's and Harrison's cases indicates they face up to 15 years at sentencing. McEwin faces up to two years in federal prison at sentencing.

Scarbrough faces up to five years in prison if convicted of conspiracy to defraud the U.S., up to 15 years in prison on each of two counts of bribery and up to 20 years in prison if convicted of conspiracy to launder money. All of the men face possible fines as well.


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