Independence won’t stop doing business with a ‘rent-a-vet’-affiliated contractor

When it awards contracts, the federal government by law grants preferred status to certain groups, such as businesses owned by women and minorities. Such quotas also apply to veteran-owned businesses. This is a good thing. Unfortunately, companies who want an edge in obtaining these often-lucrative contracts will occasionally stoop to the level of misrepresenting themselves as being owned by a veteran. Find a veteran, put his name on your company’s business filings, pay him a cut for his silence, and then start bidding on contracts. Jackpot! 

This is, more or less, what Jeffrey K. Wilson did from the years between 2005 and 2014. Wilson (who is not a veteran) was indicted on January 13, 2017, for conspiring with a 57-year-old vet named Paul Salavitch to form a business, Patriot Company (lol), that essentially served as a front for The Wilson Group, Inc. — Wilson’s Greenwood, Missouri-based contracting business. Over the years, Wilson’s scheme netted him over $13 million in federal contracts to which he would otherwise not have been entitled. Wilson purchased, among other things, a $720,000 Loch Lloyd home with this money. (He recently pleaded guilty; he faces forfeiture of $2.1 million and up to 18 months in prison.

Five days after Wilson was indicted, in 2017, The Wilson Group’s business filings in Missouri were updated. The company claimed to have been sold two weeks before the indictment. The new owner was Wilson’s son, Jordan Wilson. Hmmm. 

In addition to the fraudulently obtained federal contracts Wilson received through Patriot Company, he has also made a tidy sum over the years bidding on contracts for the City of Independence. Recent examples of The Wilson Group contracts range from a $60,000 job retrofitting a restroom at Santa Fe Park to a $111,000 no-bid gig replacing windows at the water department. 

That $111,000 job was awarded to the company in November 2017 — more than ten months after Wilson was indicted. City documents related to that contract state, “The Wilson Group…is a contractor with whom the City has a considerable number of successful experiences.” 

And despite the fact that Wilson has now formally pleaded guilty, The Wilson Group continues to rack up contracts from Independence. Earlier this year, it won a $175,000 bid to build an elevator at the National Frontier Trails Museum. And on February 5, the council approved a $63,000 no-bid contract for The Wilson Group to build a retaining wall at the police department.  

Independence leaders have apparently determined that a man who installed a phony figurehead in one company wouldn’t try the same thing with his other company. 

“It is our understanding that Jeffrey Wilson is no longer associated with Wilson Group and has not been since January 2017,” Independence spokesperson Meg Lewis writes to The Pitch. “The company is under new ownership and, at this time, has been recertified as a contractor in good standing. The company successfully completed the RFP process to keep their relationship with the NJPA program in 2017. By meeting these standards, the Wilson Group was thus considered for projects in the City.”

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