Charges of defrauding "at least $4 million" from several hospitals and two large business firms with false billing and kickbacks were filed Friday against 11 Southern Californians, including four members of the same family.
The U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles charged Donald A. Wright Jr., 35, of Simi Valley and 10 others with 38 counts of mail and tax fraud, alleging that Wright used two supply and service companies he operated and 27 fictitious company names to engineer the scheme.
Assistant U.S. Atty. Carolyn J. Kubota said Wright was aided by his father, two brothers and seven others, who were in strategic positions in hospitals and business firms or who worked for Wright.
The alleged scam was discovered in June, 1987, according to Kubota, when U.S. postal agents searched the Chatsworth offices of two construction and material supply firms identified as Imperial Pacific Inc. and Charger Electric Electrical-Electronic Services Inc.
The government accuses Wright of bribing and paying kickbacks to chief engineers and purchasing agents, who would then either approve payments for goods and services never provided by Wright's firms or inflate the cost of products and services provided.
The bribed employees also subverted competitive bidding requirements of their employers by letting Wright submit multiple bids under fictitious names and overstating the true cost of a project, the government claims.
In addition to Wright, those charged, all of whom have now left their jobs, include:
Donald Allen Wright Sr., 57, of Simi Valley, former director of engineering at Daniel Freeman Memorial Hospital in Inglewood; Richard Lee Wright, 33, Chatsworth, former chief engineer at French Hospital, Los Angeles; Michael Patrick Wright, 28, Lancaster, former chief engineer of Washington Medical Center, Culver City, and Walter Clayton Jones, 53, Phelan, former maintenance department supervisor of Southern California Vons grocery stores.
Also charged were Cliff Eugene Dewberry, 26, Whittier, former chief engineer at Doctor's Hospital, Santa Ana, and Whittier Hospital Med-Center, Whittier; Ed Bruce Ingram, 47, Yorba Linda, former regional administrative operations manager for GTE Directories Corp., Los Alamitos; Claude Vincent Hollandsworth, 40, Westminster, former chief engineer at Alhambra Community Hospital, Alhambra, and Ross Lee Winkle, 41, Northridge, former chief engineer at Rio Hondo Memorial Hospital, Downey.
The government also named two former employees of Imperial Pacific. Janet Lee Sander, 28, of Agoura, office manager and bookkeeper, was accused of preparing false invoices and disguising her voice and handwriting to submit bids under false names. Gregory Lynn Wiele, 35, of Simi Valley is charged with issuing fraudulent invoices and paying kickbacks to at least two hospital workers.