Twin sisters Charlene Corley and Darlene Wooten bilked the federal government out of millions with their company, C&D Distributors of Lexington, SC. The fraud totaled $20.5 million over six years and exploited a weakness in the Defense Department purchasing system. Bills for shipping items marked “priority” to combat areas or U.S. military bases were automatically paid with no scrutiny.
The fraudulent billings included:
- $998,798 billed for sending two 19-cent washers to Texas
- $455,009 to ship three machines screw priced at $1.31 each to Iraq
- $293,451 billed for shipping an 89-cent split washer to Florida
The scheme was detected in September (after 6 years) when a purchasing agent noticed a bill for two 19-cent washers with a shipping fee of $969,000. The purchasing agent rejected the bill and began reviewing other bills, which uncovered the first bill for $998,798 for shipping two washers, which had been paid the month prior,.
The sisters and two of their employees were barred from receiving federal contracts in December. Charlene has pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to launder money. She could receive up to 20 years in prison on each count, and she has already been fined $750,000. Darlene committed suicide in October.