PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island — The sixth and final person convicted in a 15-year kickback scheme that cost the U.S. Navy $18 million was sentenced Friday to nine months of home confinement after the judge said she refrained from putting her behind bars only because her guilty plea saved taxpayers the expense of a trial.
Mary O'Rourke, 50, of Warwick, was also ordered by U.S. District Judge Mary Lisi to pay back $478,000 to the Navy and to serve 1,000 hours of community service, equivalent to working full time for six months for free.
The sentencing brings an end to the criminal case surrounding Georgia-based contractor Advanced Solutions for Tomorrow, or ASFT, and O'Rourke's boyfriend, Ralph M. Mariano, a former civilian employee of the Navy and the mastermind of the kickback scheme.
A civil whistleblower lawsuit, first filed in Georgia, is still pending in federal court in Rhode Island.
O'Rourke was a lawyer and executive at ASFT. Mariano would approve money to be paid to the contractor from the Navy, then the contractor would funnel money back to him and others through subcontractors.
O'Rourke pleaded guilty to theft of government property for submitting invoices for work she never did to one of those subcontractors.
Her lawyer told the judge that O'Rourke's conduct was an aberration and that she was a lifelong hard worker who did valuable work for the defense industry. O'Rourke apologized in court to her family.
Lisi said that as a lawyer, O'Rourke should have known better and that she deserved prison. Sentencing guidelines called for her to spend at least 18 months in prison, but prosecutors instead recommended five years of probation because she and Mariano together agreed to plead guilty. O'Rourke has been disbarred.
"The sheer amount of money involved cries out for a jail sentence," Lisi said.
Lisi added nine months of home confinement to the government's recommendation, to be served during the first part of her probation, "so you can feel the sting, a little bit, of what your co-defendants are feeling as they report to prison."
Mariano began serving a 10-year prison term last week after pleading guilty, although he is appealing his sentence and conviction. ASFT's founder, Anjan Dutta-Gupta, and Russell Spencer, a subcontractor to whom O'Rourke submitted her phony invoices, each were sentenced to three years in prison this week. Former ASFT executive Patrick Barry Nagle received three years of probation and Mariano's father received a two-year home confinement sentence for tax evasion.