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Lobbyist pleads guilty to conspiracy

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

A Washington, D.C., lobbyist has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the federal government while lobbying for the Big Crow Program Office, a government program based at Kirtland Air Force Base that couldn’t legally pay for lobbying activities from government funds under federal law.

George Lowe, 58, of Fort Washington, Maryland, became the third person indicted in the scheme to plead guilty in the case.

Lowe was charged with participating in a conspiracy to defraud the United States through false claims for payment of federal appropriated funds in violation of federal law.

The 2017 indictment also charged Milton Boutte, 75, of Moriarty, and Joe Diaz, 60, and Arturo Vargas, 57, of El Paso with conspiracy and other offenses in a scheme to defraud the government through false claims filed for payment from federal appropriations.

The Big Crow program was involved in the field of electronic warfare, and court records indicated Lowe was seeking records and testimony from the CIA in his defense. Those efforts were denied in court rulings, but the exact nature of the information Lowe was seeking from the CIA wasn’t revealed in public court records.

In 2004 and 2005, Lowe received payment for his lobbying services with appropriated funds provided by third-party private contractors hired to provide technical, managerial and analytical support to Big Crow.

Lowe received approximately $750,000 from Miratek Corp., a company in Texas owned by Diaz. Lowe submitted false invoices to Miratek to obtain these payments, according to court records.

Lowe is out of custody awaiting sentencing. He faces up to 10 years in prison.

Boutte, who headed the program, is scheduled to stand trial on April 6.

Diaz and Vargas, who ran firms that subcontracted work from the Big Crow program, have both pleaded guilty and await sentencing in the case.

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