McPherson Contractors owner pleads guilty in $346M fraud scheme
Topeka Capital Journal
By Tim Hrenchir
Posted Jun 3, 2019
The owner of Topeka-based McPherson Contractors pleaded guilty Monday to a federal crime linked to a scheme in which prosecutors said construction firms defrauded the government by receiving $346 million for contracts set aside for veterans and minorities.
Matthew C. McPherson, 43, is subject to a sentence of up to five years in federal prison without parole after he pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and major program fraud, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Missouri.
The release indicated McPherson admitted in his plea that he took part between September 2009 and March 2018 in a conspiracy to obtain contracts set aside by the federal government to be awarded specifically to small businesses owned and controlled by military veterans, service-disabled veterans and certified minors.
McPherson, who is none of those, owned a construction company that was not entitled to compete for those contracts, the release said. The type of scheme involved is often called “Rent-A-Vet” or “Rent-A-Minority” fraud.
Authorities said McPherson and his co-conspirators — Matthew Torgeson, former president of Topeka’s Torgeson Electric Co., and Kansas City-area businessman Patrick Michael Dingle — controlled and operated Zieson Construction Co. That firm was formed in 2009 with Stephon Ziegler, an African American disabled veteran, as the nominal owner.
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