Breaking News: Craig Gerhart Resigns!

Published: June 3, 2009

Longtime county executive Craig Gerhart has resigned.

His announcement comes a day after indictments in a corruption scheme involving Prince William County’s Office of Information Technology. Gerhart has not indicated the bid-rigging case has anything to do with his decision.

Gerhart’s last day with the county government will be on Friday, July 3. Gerhart will start work for Amtrak on Monday, July 6.

Gerhart will work for Amtrak as a full-time independent contractor as the Organizational Strategist for Amtrak’s Policy and Development.

Stay with for a full story on the county executive’s resignation.

Washington Post, Tuesday, June 3, 2009

In one of the largest embezzlement cases in county history, prosecutors secured indictments Monday on 153 charges against Gupta, 45, of Woodbridge; Roessler, 50, of Woodbridge; Roessler’s brother Vernon, 42, of Dale City; and Richard Billingsley, 41, of Springfield. Charges include racketeering, bid rigging, forgery, obtaining money by false pretenses and money laundering over a five-year period.

Law enforcement sources close to the investigation said yesterday that Gupta and Roessler set up the company and arranged for it to win lucrative bids with the IT office. Two sources, both of whom spoke anonymously because of the ongoing probe, said the scheme involved submitting fake bids in the names of legitimate county contractors so that Praetorian could then compete with and undercut those bids.

Gupta was able to hide his actions because he was in charge of the process, authorities said. Officials said yesterday that there were 26 cases in which the men gave themselves contracts and made up bids from other companies.

Commonwealth Attorney Paul Ebert, Police Chief Charlie Deane, and County Executive Craig Gerhart discussed the 153 indictments handed down yesterday in a press release. The FBI is also involved because approximately $500,000 in federal grant money was tied to the scheme. This appears to be only the beginning.

This story seems to be the gift that keeps on giving. Phony companies, phony presidents of companies, fake company letterhead all are components of this tale of intrigue, graft and corruption.


The Washington Post story is listed above.

When do those companies who were denied bids kick in for their piece of the pie? Will these crimes affect our AAA bond rating? How will the corruption affect future grants? $500,000 is quite a jump from the previously reported $90,000. Was that earlier figure inaccurate reporting or is more being uncovered.

Corey Stewart continues his mantra:

“This is an embarrassment to the county, and the board will want answers as to why the internal controls in place the past five years were so weak and so easily bypassed,” said Board of County Supervisors Chairman Corey A. Stewart.

I guess voters will be asking the same question in 2011 and those wanting to be re-elected will be having to come up with a few answers.

142 Thoughts to “Breaking News: Gerhart Resigns”

  1. Gainesville Resident

    I’ve never seen that Virginia Virtucon website before – and hope what is on there that Chris just posted isn’t true. If not, great – just what we need, yet another scandal. Of course, I’m a skeptic and don’t believe everything I read – but if this has been going on for 6 years and is true, I wonder if there is some documented paper trail or memos on all of it. I’m hoping it isn’t true – that’s just what the county needs – a big sexual harrassment scandal/lawsuit.

  2. Moon-howler

    It was obvious to me from the instant I saw the information when the non-story first broke that someone was leaking information. If past history is any indicator, it was pretty obvious where the leak was.

    Thanks for keeping us apprised, Lucky Duck. It seems that the puppet show goes on.

  3. Moon-howler

    Obviously whoever put that up doesn’t understand the difference in sexual harassment and hostile work environment. Both are serious issues but there is a distinct difference.

    I have never seen people so hell bent on bringing the entire county down. It is like someone sewed someone’s tongue down in the middle so it can wag at both ends. Again, a boy and his puppet.

  4. Chris

    I’m just so sick and tired of a new black-eye for the coutny on daily basis it seems. I hope it’s not true too, but I guess time will tell. I don’t know anything about Virginia Virtucon. My first was today. It looked like a billboard for Repbulicans.

    Moon, I even saw someone refer to it as “gender” harassment. That’s sounds pretty pc. I agree both are serious issues and they are different. However, both issues should not be swept under the rug. They need to be investigated. I just don’t know what to think of it all.

  5. Gainesville Resident

    Agreed Chris – I’m tired of the continual negative drumbeat of news about the county recently. It gets to the point I’m afraid to look at the local news anymore. A sad commentary on the state of things, to say the least. I think MH has an interesting point – I skimmed the Virtucon website and didn’t read all the nuances, but there is indeed a difference between hostile workplace and sexual harrassment – so far this sounds more like the hostile workplace variety. Even so, it still could result in a lawsuit, IF it is true. I remain a skeptic though, not believing a lot I read in the press, and I haven’t looked at this other website in detail yet to see what other things they’ve reported on. But, I’m a skeptic about any news source, no matter what side of the issue they are on. Indeed, if there is any grain of truth to this latest allegation, it needs to be investigated and those responsible should be dealt with appropriately. I just hope it isn’t true, but it sounds like there may indeed be a paper trail of memos to HR, etc. which is not a good thing if the problem was more or less ignored. However, I hesitate to say too much, as I don’t like rushing to judgement based on some story posted on a website I’m unfamiliar with (or even one I am familiar with).

  6. Gainesville Resident

    Took another look at Virginia Virtucon – does seem kind of like a lot of hype on there and indeed a Republican slanted view of things. I more or less identify as a Republican – but that Virtucon website – is too far to the sensational side of things for me. It makes for some interesting reading though – will have to add it to my list of websites I read for entertainment purposes (that is, i take what they say with a grain of salt but find some of the stuff they post so crazy it is funny).

  7. Moon-howler

    Prince William County has policy regarding sexual harassment. It spells it out pretty clearly how to handle it. There is always going to be some clown somewhere, who does not know how to act appropriately on the job.

    What is galling me is that the blogosphere is falling all over situations that just should be handled. Right now there is just wallowing in gossip.

    At this point, just don’t get me started. If certain elected officials gave 2 damns about this county they would stop feeding the rumor mill. I have never seen such glee over the ruination of a county and the glee is not here at anti.

  8. Moon-howler

    @Gainesville Resident
    I agree with you, Gainesville. It ought to prove interesting to watch who all comes charging in on their white steeds to clean the place up after they have destroyed it.

  9. Moon-howler

    Excellent job, Pinko. Thanks for sharing something so positive.

  10. Gainesville Resident

    MH – most companies (including all I’ve ever worked for) have very explicit sexual harrassment policies – so does not surprise me a bit that PWC has one too. These days, any organization would be foolish NOT to have such a policy clearly spelled out. I’d be surprised if there are many companies or local gov’ts in the USA that don’t have a very clear sexual harrassment policy. Otherwise, the company or gov’t is very exposed to say the least, if such a case arises, from a legal point of view. Will be interesting to see how this plays out – I’m hoping it is not true, but fear that it is.

    Indeed, will be interesting as you say to see “who all comes charging in on their white steeds to clean the place up after they have destroyed it.” It appears there’s going to be plenty of job openings for anyone interested in helping out. Can’t say I’d want any of those jobs – don’t think whatever the salary is I’d want to get in the middle of all that!

  11. Thanks, MH. It was truly an interesting class. The people who presented are really dedicated and they didn’t avoid the tough questions.

    Shows once again that it’s politics that bring down the county, not workers.

    The BOCS should show their employees some more respect and gratitude, especially when making policy. I’m not talking about superficial appreciations. I’m talking about sincerity.

    And they should pay attention to what is going on in every department. Sorry, but the buck should have stopped with them and the Chairs. Had they been paying closer attention, this scandal would never have happened and we would have more money in our budget.

  12. @Gainesville Resident
    “These days, any organization would be foolish NOT to have such a policy clearly spelled out.”

    GR, believe it or not, there are still very foolish organizations out there.

    And even with a policy in place, some people will always squirm around the rules. “Blame the victim” is alive and well.

  13. The investigation was indeed compromised.

    My sources tell me that Gerhart’s intention leave county government for the Amtrak position was known well in advance of the public announcement. Most likely, Stewart reported this and other confidential information to Letiecq in order to (1) make it look as though Letiecq is regaining his influence, if not his credibility, and, (2) make it look as though the blame for the scandal rests solely on Gerhart, and not the Chairman.

    Letiecq and Stewart aim constantly to manipulate public opinion, unfortunately, with little regard for ethics, honesty, or on-going investigations.

  14. Gainesville Resident

    Yeah, but unless i misunderstand things, Gerhart is more directly in charge of departments in the gov’t than the bocs. Maybe I misunderstand. In my opinion, he should have been keeping closer tabs too. That being said, it is very hard at times to detect scandals such as these, until books are carefully audited by forensic accountants. Whatever, if someone is going to blame the bocs, I’d say Gerhart is as much to blame as they are. You can’t say the bocs is guilty in this case, and Gerhart is innocent. Either both are blameless (innocent) or both are somewhat to blame. I’m not saying any of them were directly involved, but it happened “on their watch”. Then again, my thinking is some of this scandal pre-dates the current bocs (that is after the latest local elections). Anyway, I don’t see how the bocs can be held accountable and Gerhart can’t – that’s a one sentence summary of what I’m trying to say here. I may be misunderstanding things, but from what I see he’s the “big boss” of most county employees – they report to him (through their supervisors) – not to the bocs. However, I’d agree that the bocs is just as much responsible for oversight as he is. I just don’t agree that we should hold the bocs accountable for this, and not Gerhart. Either both should be held accountable, or neither should be.

  15. Gainesville Resident

    WHWN – it is sad the investigation was compromised. My feeling is – who knows what valuable investigative information, or just “the advantage of surprise” may have been lost. We’ll never know now. That is not good. You don’t want to tip off people who are being investigated, especially while they still have access to computer systems and could cover their tracks, removing any files containing damaging evidence. It is too bad the investigation has obviously been compromised – it definitely should not have been.

  16. Gainesville, it just goes to show that those who like to use the phrase “Rule of Law” are often ambivalent about the actually application of it. As far as the “blame” is concerned, it’s almost a cliche but I’ll state it anyway: when a scandal breaks, the politicians who face reelection seek out a fall guy upon which to focus public outrage. This person is usually someone who does not race reelection, a public servant somewhere lower down the chain. The public is being manipulated with the timing of the news articles. Corey Stewart may be an ineffective and counterproductive leader, but he is a master at political spin.

  17. Apologize for the typos.

  18. Gainesville Resident

    I tend to disagree WHWN. I see too many people wanting to blame the bocs and not blame Gerhart. Either blame them all, or blame none of them, you can’t have it both ways.

  19. Juturna

    I like what MH said about being destructive and then galloping in on a white steed to save the day. In Texas they called that “Gramm-standing”. He was known for that.

  20. I don’t blame anyone other than the culprits. I agree with you that the BOCS does not deserve whatever flak they may be getting … if you are speaking of this thread, I have not read all the posts. I agree with you that no one can rightly blame the BOCS without blaming the CE office, and vice versa.

  21. Here’s what I heard in my class: there was never enough money in the budget to get external auditors, especially on a regular basis. And even if there were money, it takes time to get those auditors up to speed which is difficult when staff has been cut.

    Yes, Gerhart should have been looking more closely, but so should the other bosses. Members of the BOCS are the ultimate bosses. They formulate the budget and speak for the county. They finalize budgets and contracts. How can they not be responsible?

  22. Besides that, it’s evident some higher up is leaking information to GL. Do you really think Gerhart is doing that, considering GL’s penchant for loathing Gerhart?

  23. Moon-howler

    @Posting As Pinko

    Don’t companies, governments, non-profits have to have policy in place to deal with the federal government? (business, grants, etc etc)?

  24. Moon-howler

    It is very obvious that someone has done a lot of leaking of information that should not have been leaked. When we look at 1. what was leaked 2. where it showed up 3. contributors in the know’s remarks, it becomes increasingly apparent who leaked and to whom.

    I don’t think anyone is attempting to blame the boc and not Gerhart. I think what people here are saying is, IF we blame Gerhart, then the boc is also culpable, since they are who we elect.

    I think most people blame the bad guys, the guys who stole, embezzled, cheated, and profitted off our good county name.

    HOWEVER, as I snoop around the blogosphere, I see how badly some people who live in this very county want to drag this county down. It is almost shocking. Rather than fix the problems that exist, and there are problems, make no mistake, there are those who want to expose all the problems and lay them at the feet of Craig Gerhart. When Gerhart runs out of foot room, then those same people are lining up to start on Chief Deane.

    I see now that at least one member of the BOC simply doesn’t care what he destroys in this county. He is going to try the Mr. Charging White Steed costume on for a while and try to be Mr. Clean Up. However, he doesn’t fool me and he doesn’t fool others. He will drag us all down as low as we can go for his own political motivation and profit.

  25. @Moon-howler
    I suspect they are supposed to, but do you think the Feds really check out the local systems? And what happens if the county isn’t following its own policy? What happens if the policy is just bad policy? I don’t know the answers to these questions, MH. It just seems that with all the layers of supervision, someone should have caught this LONG ago. This is why I even go back to the previous Board Chair.

    Gerhart probably screwed up somewhere along the line, like everyone else. But I don’t think it was a cover up or that he was just turning his head. Again, he strikes me as honest.

    Since at least 2 members of the BOCS do NOT strike me as honest, I have little faith that the BOCS was overseeing much and all of a sudden, these two want to be viewed as the saviors. Sorry. Doesn’t work that way, guys.

    No matter what anyone thinks of Gerhart, at least he had the decency to retire.

    Maybe our two beloved BOCS members should follow suite. They have, after all, caused more than one scandal in this county and obviously thrive on getting us negative press.

  26. BTW, there is a reason why Stewart wasn’t invited to the investigative media party at the Western Police Station, don’t you think?

    Maybe some people are tired of him spouting off to the media and misrepresenting us.

  27. Moon-howler

    @Posting As Pinko
    The press release? I thought that was over at the court house.

    I am sure everyone is tired of the spouting. The guy sees a mic and the mouth goes into overdrive.

  28. Bryanna

    Protecting electronic information that resides on the county network should be a top priority under these circumstances. In the least, a vulnerability assessment should be done, if it hasn’t already.

    About a month ago, someone attempted to use my Discover card on line at American Eagle Outfitters. The shipping address was Jamaica so they called to verifiy the order and we stopped it. I use this card on-line because it has a low limit.

    After the rumors surfaced about OIT, I decided that it may not be a coincidence so I emailed the Chairman Stewart’s office to inform them and see if anyone else had reported the same or similiar problem. Being an IT professional, I new it was the right thing to do.

    Two staff members quickly responded saying they would look into it. A couple of days later, a PWC Detective called me unexpectedly. Though he was very polite and professional and has no legal jurisdiction over an attempted fraud that happened outside the US, he was persistent in getting copies of my Discover statements and any other documentation, as if I needed to prove the incident really happened. I don’t fault him for doing his job, but I do question if it was an attempt to try and intimidate me for contacting the Chairman’s office.

    So I think there was an effort to sweep this under the rug. And, the CXO new it, which is why he held the press conference the way he did.

  29. Bryanna

    I left out an important detail, I last used the Discover card on the county web-site in November 2008 to pay for personal property tax on two vehicles that I own.

  30. Moon-howler

    Bryanna, why would a police detective try to intimidate you for contacting the chairman’s office? I tried to take the quantum leap with you ….and didn’t reach the other side. I would assume they were following up and attempting to solve a problem. This is beginning to sound like no good deed goes unpunished.

    There is a lot more credit card fraud going on nowadays than even 2-3 years ago. In the past year I have had 3 incidents with credit cards. 2 of these were online and fraudulent charges were made. The third was at Ruby Tuesday’s in Westgate. I must have dropped my American Express card after paying for my meal. I realized it the next day and called. NO, they had not seen it. However, someone there had seen it because I saw a gas charge on the account. Someone had sticky fingers. No doubt in my mind where it happened. That was the only place I had been.

  31. MH, here is what I was referring to:

    –Stewart also criticized Gerhart for not keeping the board fully informed of the investigation’s progress or giving sufficient notice of the press conference, which was held at the police department’s western branch in Manassas.

    “I am upset that the chief executive officer has kept us in the dark. We’re learning more from the press than from the county staff,” he said, “and I feel blindsided by the press conference.”–

  32. Moon-howler

    He has criticized the chief executive officer every step of the way. It is obvious to anyone who can read. Then he turns around and denies it. Perhaps Stewart should have presented the CEO with a list of questions sort of like he did to Chief Deane. He should have put a time limit on it. Or, maybe his ‘little helper’ was off writing nastygrams about someone else and didn’t have time to help.

  33. Gainesville Resident

    For one thing, as long as you use a website that has https, anything entered into it is encrypted and is only able to be unencrypted at the receiving end. I am sure American Eagle Outfitter uses https when you make an order with them, as all reputable online eBusinesses do. The only way someone from the county could possibly capture your Discover card is if the county is employing keystroke monitoring software – which i will say is not outside the realm of possibility. That software is out there, but it would be time consuming for someone to pull up someone’s keystrokes, etc. Companies do employ it selectively on individuals they suspect are engaged in computer fraud or something. In general they don’t turn it loose on every employee or it would cause massive amounts of bandwidth problems on the system.

    I kind of doubt the county is using keystroke monitoring software. More likely they just track what websites someone surfs. And, doing that, no way will that capture credit card info sent as it is encrypted with a fairly strong encryption algorithm – not as strong as the US Military uses – but strong enough that it is very hard to break.

    What I’m getting at is, i seriously doubt the county was able to get ahold of any credit card info from a purchase made online on the county’s computer system.

    What is more likely is this is a case of credit card fraud, which is far too prevalent these days. A coworker of mine somehow had his corporate card used fraudulently – most likely a restaurant worker captured the numbers when he paid his bill. While he was on a trip, all kinds of mysterious HUGE charges started showing up – for things like fur coats, jewelry, etc! It was sort of funny, but in a way pretty shocking how fast the crooks got to using his card before they shut it down.

    You have to be extra vigilent in using your card at restaurants – where the waiter/waitress takes it from you. That is one way your card number can be stolen. There’s other ways too – if your computer has spyware on it – it might capture keystrokes entered in on websites where you place orders. The spyware can send it to unsavory people who now have everything they need to steal your info.

    Sadly, there’s too many ways the credit card info can be stolen. I kind of don’t think though it was done by someone on the county system – it would have had to have been someone with admin or super user privilidges, for one thing – and the set of people who have those SHOULD be limited to a very small set. In fact, no one person should have all super user privilidges, from an information assurance point of view. In practice, this can be impossible for small computer systems or networks. But the county’s system must be fairly large – I would hope they are following good computer security guidelines – most of it is common sense. I know much about this, as I am involved heavily in it from a military systems point of view.

  34. Gainesville Resident

    Actually, in rereading things – I see it was a fraudulent order placed via American Eagle Outfitters. I’m a little confused to the linkage to the county system – I’m assuming that discover card was used to make a purchase using computers on the county system. In any event, I stand by what I said above – as long as you never make a purchase via http (as opposed to https) you SHOULD be protected unless spyware is present on the computer (they are smart and will monitor keystrokes on an https site) OR the computer system is employing keystroke monitoring software. Capturing https traffic will result in “gobbledygook” that would take a lot of computer time to crack the encryption – it is not impossible, but not worth the time and effort. http traffic on the other hand is sent in the clear – but no reputable online store would use http for people to place their orders. You will always see https, as evidenced by the url when you complete your order, or the little security key symbol in your browser – it depends on what browser you are using, but usually down in the lower right hand corner.

    It does bear saying – make sure you never order anything via http – as then you are definitely exposed – anyone on the network capturing packets could see your credit card info unencryted if you don’t use https.

    Sorry for the somewhat technical explanation – but I could find no other way to talk about this and to say that I seriously doubt the county captured the discover card info by keystroke monitoring software. As long as https was used to place the original order by Discover card, I don’t see how that could have been captured – using the more normal monitoring of URL’s hit by the browser. Most companies monitor web useage, but in doing so they will only be able to see that some https address at for example was hit – the actual credit card info, name, address, etc. is all sent encrypted and will show up as that in the monitoring software.

    Again, sorry for the long discussion – I could think of no better way to summarize it or not go into some technical details.

  35. Gainesville Resident

    Finally, if the county is like city of Manassas, they use a 3rd party processor to accept credit card payments for property taxes and so on. I think they are like that, as I believe I did so when I had to pay personal property tax on my car when I brought it into the county. Strangely, they billed me for 2 months for last year, and CLAIMED I would get a refund from City of Manassas. Sadly, that didn’t happen, so since I got a county sticker on my car in early November – I paid 2 months of personal property tax to the county overlapped with the same period for the city. I maybe have to chase after the city myself to refund those two months – it’s on my list of things to do. My point is, if my memory is correct, I went on the county website and it really took me to an independent 3rd party website, who handles the credit card info. I know that’s how it works for city of Manassas anyway. The county would never see that credit card info.

    I missed that detail, as somehow I thought the county’s own computer system was used to place some online order. So some of what I said was incorrect – I didn’t see the second post clarifying that. I still think the county probably doesn’t ever see the Discover card info – only that 3rd party processor does.

  36. Moon-howler

    Thanks for that explanation, gainesville resident. I appreciate the knowledge. I am not sure how 2 of my fraudent uses happened. In all cases, strange things showed up and I contacted the credit card companies.

  37. Bottom line: if Corey Stewart said it, we know that (1) the motivations were purely political self-interest, and (2) it probably is neither sincere nor true. It’s as if he’s gotten the Letiecq disease: politics is a game where you warp and reshape reality to a point where it is unrecognizable, half-believing your own lies, and half laughing at the world for believing them.

  38. Juturna

    Well, leCreeps sensational threads (the last two) seem to have fallen flat given the low number of responses. One can only hope they’ve shot themselves in the foot on this one. This is a huge investigation with local state and federal implications. Serious business like this is best left to professionals to manage. Not amatuer media or inept politicians. Real stuff real criminals – they are limited to their bush league tactics which are fortunately exposing them rather than advancing their agenda. Its always a win win when people like this facilitate their own failure.

  39. Gainesville Resident

    MH – all I can say, pays to be very vigilant with your credit cards. Especially at restaurants where you have to hand them to the server – and they take them someplace to make the charge. What’s to stop them from writing down all the info on the card? Now, they don’t have you address, BUT, if you are listed in the phonebook and have a unique name, they probably now have everything they need to go start using your credit card fraudulently over the computer. Of course, they better hide their IP address, as most companies keep track of IP’s when credit cards are charged. Still, they could go to Starbucks or someplace like that – hope on their wireless internet – make the transaction, and no one would be the wiser as to their real identity.

    Believe me, I’m very very cautious about my credit cards. I can’t afford to have a bad credit rating or have identity theft done to me, my security clearance would at least be temporarily lost, and that would not let me do my job on a daily basis – would be very bad for me – let’s put it that way. I’m paranoid about my credit cards and other personal info – and rightfully so. ID theft is a huge huge problem, and happens more often than most people realize. Very bad problem – much more needs to be done, and the credit agencies need to recognize it as many people’s lives have been ruined over ID theft. It is a real hot button of mine, even though it hasn’t happened to me (yet) but has happened to people I know through acquaintenances. Very bad stuff. It will ruin your life, lets’ put it that way. Especially be very protective of your social security number. Glad Virginia got away from the social security number on the driver’s license years ago – that was also very bad.

  40. Gainesville Resident

    Meant to say “hop on the internet” stupid confusing typo – my e-mails/blog posts are full of dumb typos… What can I say.

  41. Witness Too

    I don’t know why, but it surprised me to read that Chairman Stewart looked upon the IT scandal in some ways as a publicity opportunity for himself.

    He’s in a huff because he wasn’t the center of attention at a press conference?

    I don’t understand this. I feel as though he hasn’t made a good case as to why he should have the right to collect information, secretly leak it to his internet henchman, and then use his bully pulpit as Chairman to try to manipulate public opinion. Why should we accept that this is his job?

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