A Westside parking lot operator is expected to plead guilty Thursday to federal charges alleging he swindled the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs out of at least $13 million and bribed a federal official to keep the long-running scheme secret.
Richard Scott, 58, of Santa Monica faces a 70-month federal prison sentence on the conspiracy and wire fraud counts to which he’s expected to plead. However, the final decision rests with U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner at the time of sentencing.
Prosecutors allege Scott kept two sets of books to hide revenue from parking lots that his company, Westside Services LLC, operated at the VA Medical Center in West Los Angeles. The lots were used for the hospital as well as UCLA baseball games, events at the Wadsworth and Brentwood theaters, and the PGA golf tournament at the Riviera Country Club.
Scott’s contract required him to provide the VA with 60 percent of the gross revenues from the lots, and he was required to submit annual reports detailing revenue generated by parking fees, as well as improvements and services his company provided that could be used to offset payments the VA, according to federal prosecutors.
The investigation determined that one set of Scott’s books contained false revenue and expense statements, and a second set contained actual revenues and expenditures, aside from unreported cash, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
As part of the scheme, Scott allegedly began bribing then-VA contracting official Ralph Tillman, who was responsible for overseeing the contract in 2003, paying him a total of about $300,000 in “hush money” until Tillman abruptly retired in 2014 after he was confronted by federal agents.
Tillman, 58, of Whittier pleaded guilty in February to federal tax charges and lying to investigators when he denied taking bribes from a parking lot operator at the VA’s Westside medical campus. He faces up to eight years behind bars when he is sentenced Aug. 27 by Klausner in downtown Los Angeles.
As a result of the 15-year scheme to defraud the VA, Scott amassed considerable wealth, including three condominiums in Santa Monica, with a cumulative estimated value of $7 million; numerous high-end collectible cars, including several classic Corvettes and three Ferraris; a Cigarette Top Gun racing boat; and bank and brokerage accounts containing more than $1 million, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
As part of the plea agreement, Scott and his wife have agreed to forfeit all of the assets, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and he has agreed to pay $12,619,693 in restitution, a figure that takes into account some money already repaid to the VA.
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