Contractor gets 30 months for defrauding government Harford man funded wife's singing career

September 13, 1997|By Alec Klein | Alec Klein,SUN STAFF

She sang the "Long Arm of My Love." He felt the long arm of the law.

Robert David Leas, a Harford County defense contractor, was sentenced yesterday to 30 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Andre M. Davis for defrauding the government of more than $100,000 in a scheme that helped finance his wife's short-lived country music singing career.

"This was a crime committed out of greed," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Barbara S. Sale.

Leas, 50, stood stoic, a broad man in a dark double-breasted suit, white collar and tinted, gold-rimmed glasses. "We have a system," he said, "and whether you like it or not, you have to live with the system."

For what Davis called Leas' "affinity for fraud," the court also imposed a $10,000 fine and a $250 special assessment. His Edgewood fuel-tank storage company, American Construction Services, was fined $20,000 with a $500 special assessment.

Leas also will have three years of supervised release after he serves his sentence. He is being recommended for an intensive boot-camp prison program in which he could reduce his sentence if he performs well.

In April, a jury found Leas guilty of making false claims to government officials and obstructing a federal audit. Prosecutors said Leas billed the government for tens of thousands in improper personal expenses, including a Pontiac Firebird, a 17-day cruise to Tahiti and child care.

Leas also used funds from government claims to launch the singing career of his wife, Alicia Faye Major, from whom he is now estranged. He bought her a swank two-bedroom townhouse in Nashville, Tenn., paid $4,000 a month for her manager, purchased a tour bus for her band and hired a former drummer for country music star Waylon Jennings to help her in the studio.

Her career was brief -- she cut a demonstration album and a promotional videotape with the money Leas swindled from the government.

Prosecutors also said that Leas fraudulently listed his wife, who is of Native American descent, as the owner and operator of his business so that he could obtain federal contracts set aside for minority-owned businesses.

Yesterday, prosecutors added another item to the list of Leas' acquisitions, a $60,000 boat purchased in October in the name of a relative in South Carolina.

After his prison term, his attorneys said, Leas intends to return to contracting work.

Pub Date: 9/13/97

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