Ex Merchant Marine Academy official sentenced for accepting bribes

Ex Merchant Marine Academy official sentenced for accepting bribes
The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy has been the subject of a federal investigation into a sexual assault that allegedly occurred on a soccer team bus. (Photo from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy website)

A former employee of the United States Merchant Marine Academy was sentenced to three years in prison for accepting bribes on Friday, months after pleading guilty to the charges.

John McCormick, 60, previously a planner and estimator for the Department of Public Works of the United States Merchant Marine Academy, accepted more than $150,000 in bribes, according to court filings.

In addition to prison time, McCormick must also pay a $10,000 fine and $78,000 for funds that he illegally received.

“McCormick abused his position of trust by putting government contracts up for sale in order to line his pockets with bribe money,” Acting U.S. Attorney Bridget Rohde said in a statement.  “This Office, together with our law enforcement partners, will vigorously investigate and prosecute to the fullest extent of the law those who engage in public corruption that threatens the integrity of the contract procuring process.”

Prosecutors said that between 2000 and 2014, McCormick used his position to solicit and submit fake bids on his supervised contracts and steer maintenance and repair contracts to contractors who paid him bribes.

McCormick’s attorney, Jeffrey Groder, was not immediately available for comment late Friday afternoon, but told Newsday shortly after the sentencing that McCormick was “disappointed” with the sentence.

“Obviously, you know Mr. McCormick is disappointed at the sentence but he’s accepted responsibility and hopes to put this behind him and rejoin his family as soon as possible,” Groder said.

The investigation targeting McCormick began, according to court filings, after “numerous complaints” were made to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s inspector general’s office that McCormick was “increasing the cost of USMMA related contracts by fixing bids and steering USMMA contracts to contractors who would pay him cash ‘kickbacks.'”

At the time of his guilty plea, McCormick initially faced up to 15 years in prison.

McCormick was also part of a larger investigation into the United States Merchant Marine Academy’s employees and contractors, according the Eastern District of New York’s U.S. Attorney’s Office.

These investigations are unrelated to the school’s struggles with sexual assault, harassment and bullying of midshipmen on campus.

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