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$2,000 Bribe Bought Password To DC P.O. System 187

theodp writes "While the Administration is counting on new Federal CIO Vivek Kundra to simplify and speed the federal IT procurement process, it's doubtful he'll be able to reduce red tape to the extent that a former minion of his did at the scandal-rocked D.C. Office of the CTO. Exhibiting some truly out-of-the-box thinking, project manager Tawanna Sellmon not only processed phony invoices for the contractor at the center of the D.C. bribery and kickback scandal, she also gave him the password to the city's computerized database used to track purchase orders. Sellmon pleaded guilty last week for her role in the scam, which netted her an envelope containing $2,000 in cash, as well as an undisclosed number of $25-$100 gift cards."
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$2,000 Bribe Bought Password To DC P.O. System

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  • hmm (Score:4, Funny)

    by SatanClauz ( 741416 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @09:42AM (#29503169)
    what should I set the reserve for the database password of the state police toxicology test results?
  • I bet... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MyLongNickName ( 822545 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @09:44AM (#29503195) Journal

    I bet she kept the secret for 47 hours.

  • Makes one think. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ACMENEWSLLC ( 940904 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @09:51AM (#29503273) Homepage

    Do you have remote access capabilities onto your Network? VPN, Citrix, not blocking GotomyPC? Has anyone at your company done the same thing, offering the competition direct access to your systems?

  • by amplt1337 ( 707922 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @10:05AM (#29503419) Journal just how laughably cheap people can be bought for. Two grand and some gift cards? SERIOUSLY? You'd go to jail for that? When you're a project manager at a government job with great benefits, probably making more than that every WEEK?

    It's like the Abramoff scandal. People will sell out their country for Capitals tickets. It's not even the Bulls or something!!

    • by Kozz ( 7764 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @10:24AM (#29503667) just how laughably cheap people can be bought for. Two grand and some gift cards? SERIOUSLY? You'd go to jail for that?

      On the contrary... they would not go to jail for that. It's their own ignorance and stupidity which cause them to be so easily bought -- and to believe that they won't go to jail because they won't get caught. Criminals are not exactly known for their brains.

    • Two grand and some gift cards? SERIOUSLY? You'd go to jail for that?

      Dude, seriously. They were Walmart gift cards. What normal person wouldn't spend a few years at Club Fed for those bad boys?

      • by Shakrai ( 717556 )

        What normal person wouldn't spend a few years at Club Fed for those bad boys?

        I don't think you go to Club Fed when the victim of your crime was Uncle Sam himself. He can be a rather unforgiving sort. I'd imagine you go to Federal pound-me-in-the-ass prison for this sort of stupidity.

        • What normal person wouldn't spend a few years at Club Fed for those bad boys?

          I don't think you go to Club Fed when the victim of your crime was Uncle Sam himself. He can be a rather unforgiving sort. I'd imagine you go to Federal pound-me-in-the-ass prison for this sort of stupidity.


          Club Fed... Federal PMITA.

          Club Fed... Federal PMITA.

          They won't send you to Federal prison; they'll send you to Federal prison...

          Okay then.

    • I'm guessing Tawanna doesn't come from money..

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by amplt1337 ( 707922 )

        Enough to get herself a responsible management position at an important technology office. I understand your meaning, but to be qualified for this job she absolutely had a college education, possibly master's degree, and at least five years of tech-related work experience, so she's at least come to money even if she hasn't come from it.

        • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

          Well criminals never get to keep the proceeds of crime, at least the proceeds they confess too or are caught with. Now if you have access to their Swiss or Bahamas bank accounts (bankers facilitating crime on a global basis), you likely end up with a quite different risk benefit analysis, really, millions of dollars of fraud and not even a 10% commission, now that would be truly hard to believe.

        • by Chibi ( 232518 )

          re: "responsible management position at an important technology office"

          I think you might be overestimating the qualifications needed for promotion within the government. I worked for the Federal Government for a while, and their review process was basically pass/fail. Someone who had been around for 15+ years was discussing promotions with me once, and they government, trying to be fair to a fault, will do things like give priority to people with advanced degrees.

          This might sound fine, but there are plent

        • by geekoid ( 135745 )

          "but to be qualified for this job she absolutely had a college education, possibly master's degree,

          You base that on what, exactly?

          I know a lot of important IT manager that don't ahve a degree.

          • Yeah, but this is the government. They're real sticklers for that sort of thing because they try to be all meritocratic, and presence of a degree is nice and objective (and if the value of whatever degree is present is not necessarily so objective, well... that's the problem with over-fixating on objectivity).

    • I agree, but it's not just gov't corruption. People go to jail all the time for embezzling 10 grand.

      At least they do here in philly.

      Maybe it's us.

    • by jonpublic ( 676412 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @11:23AM (#29504551)

      HA! That's nothing.

      In Detroit here we had a 1.2 BILLION dollar deal that was approved by city council only after someone got a $5,000 or $10,000 bribe. You might have heard of Monica Conyers or perhaps her husband, John Conyers.

      The way it works here is you hire a "consultant" who supposedly puts you in touch with the right people. What actually happens is the consultant pockets half of the consultant fee, and gives the other half to the person you want to influence. And then the vote changes.

      A few people are already on their way to jail, but it's nothing compared to the cost to the city and the hundreds of workers who lost their jobs as a result of the deal.

      • by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @01:28PM (#29506299) Journal
        Every hear of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld? They got elected, killed many useful projects for our nation, and then awarded LARGE contracts to their friends (sight unseen). In addition, when ppl spoke up about, they were QUICKLY shut down. Bunny Greenhouse comes to mind. So many others who have spoken about the corruption and all were swept under the rug. Of course, we did catch a criminal who got a blow job, but that is a different issue all together.
    • Some people commit heinous acts for the thrill of it. Robert Hansen of the FBI always wanted to be a spy; in time he ended up working for the FBI but to fulfill his long held fantasies he spied against the US for the Russians.

    • It was the age of Wisdom.
      It was the age of Darkness.
      It was the age of neo-cons raping and pillaging all that they could.

      And a merry Christmas to all.
  • Nice SEO slander (Score:5, Insightful)

    by foniksonik ( 573572 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @10:21AM (#29503637) Homepage Journal

    If TFA isn't a Troll I'll eat my shorts.

    What's the best way to SEO slander someone.... without getting hit by a lawsuit? Just put them in the same article with a dubious individual - make a virtual connection even if no real connection exist... then people will start discussing them together and voila - they must be close friends!

    Shameless and disgusting.

    What's worse is that the reference to Kundra was obviously added after the story was initially posted on the linked site... that text with Kundra's name isn't even in a p tag, it appears styled differently in the rendered version as well, almost like an editor went in and added it after the author had published - "Hmm we need more hits on this story, let's put Kundra's name in it... that will get hits".

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by corbettw ( 214229 )

      FTFA: "Until recently, the technology office was headed by Vivek Kundra, who has taken a job as President Obama's chief information officer. A White House official confirmed last night that Kundra has taken a leave of absence. "

      Sounds like the former CTO might have more bones in his closet related to this thing than has yet been acknowledged. Why else take a leave of absence because a former employee did something shady?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jonpublic ( 676412 )

      It's a fact in public life that if the people around you are dirty, some of that dirt will rub off on you, whether or not you are involved.

      Once the public's trust is broken, it's very hard to earn it back.

      • by geekoid ( 135745 )

        Bullshit. That's the same type of thikning that buys into the "where there is smoke there is fire fallacy."

    • yea...why stop. We could also just say "President OBAMA's trusted Federal CIO Vivek Kundra former office staffed with people he worked close with are being prosecuted....."

      guilt by association is sometimes true and sometimes not but those who do so without OTHER evidence to back it up are sleezy

  • Let's treat this (Score:3, Insightful)

    by grolaw ( 670747 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @10:26AM (#29503679) Journal

    as if it were what it is: treason. This, cheaply bought bureaucrat, has sold her nation down the tubes for a pittance. Sushil Bansal, the owner of Advanced Integrated Technologies, made millions. Execute all three. Especially Advanced Integrated Technologies; it's high time for corporate death penalties that leave shareholders with worthless paper. Then we may see some responsibility at the top - not just profits.

    I'm for stoning them at the base of the Washington Monument.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by gandhi_2 ( 1108023 )
      actually, she just sold the District of Columbia's tubes for a pittance. my only regret is that she didn't sell the entire city.
      • by grolaw ( 670747 )

        A government of, by and for the people is US. The worthless bastards we have in powerful positions need legislator/bureaucrat liability to get their attention.

        I have no problem with our government - just the people who are in it... BUSHIES!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Lord Ender ( 156273 )

      The executives should go to jail, and the company should pay compensation (hurting shareholders out of necessity), but the shareholders themselves (retirement funds and the like) had nothing to do with the decision.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        but the shareholders themselves (retirement funds and the like) had nothing to do with the decision.

        Bullshit. That is the copout that corporations have been using forever but there are two major and fatal problems with it: 1) shareholders choose to invest in companies and 2) they have (with any brains) the voting shares, and thus the ability to change the board of directors and with it the CEO.

        So no dice. Whining that "We didn't know that our money invested in the 'White Phosphorus Bombs R Us' will actual

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by radish ( 98371 )

          There's a difference between investing in companies which publically take part in activities you personally don't agree with (such as weapons manufacture) and investing in outwardly innocent companies which are secretly breaking the law. Of course, once the illegal activity is revealed, what you do next as a shareholder is squarely on your head/conscience.

          • by grolaw ( 670747 )

            What about the bank shareholders? 94 have gone under so far this year and - aside from mutual fund investors, let the shareholders enjoy the invisible hand taking their money...

          • outwardly innocent companies which are secretly breaking the law.

            This is where the whole silly "free market" ideology falls apart. In the supposed "efficient free market" you are expected to have only "informed buyers" making rational purchases. So either you should have shareholders buying shares of companies of whose activities they are fully aware of (as in having thoroughly investigated them) or you have a "market" composed of con artists and marks. If you are incapable, or unwilling, to obtain a compl

        • by grolaw ( 670747 )


        • by jvkjvk ( 102057 )

          So how would you deal with share holders of mutual funds?

          How about the index funds?

          What about people who put their money in a bank that then lends to these companies?

          Or what about...?

          Perhaps it is not as simple as you make it appear.


          • The whole notion of a "stock market" or "investing" in things over which you have no control or knowledge about is, frankly, insane. This includes indirect forms of such gambling such as index trading or entities which engage in trading many shares in bulk at once, etc and so on.

            If you engage in insane activities, you better be prepared to deal with the consequences.

            So yes, it is far simpler that you are trying to make it appear.


    • Re:Let's treat this (Score:5, Informative)

      by CrimsonAvenger ( 580665 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @12:03PM (#29505165)

      as if it were what it is: treason.

      The Constitution defines treason. And this isn't it, much as you'd like it to be.

      • by grolaw ( 670747 )

        Article 3, Sec. 3 U.S> Constitution

        Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

        The Congress shall have power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainte

        • by Noren ( 605012 )
          Well, since we're quoting the Constitution - Article 1, Section 8: The Congress shall have power ... To declare war...

          The last time the Congress exercised its power to declare war was June 5, 1942. Thankfully, we've been at peace since World War II ended, albeit with a few military engagements that were not declared Wars per the Constitution.
        • by geekoid ( 135745 )

          No, only if she gave the password to someone we were levying war on.

          ", the password could easily have been "

          But it wasn't. End of story.

          • by grolaw ( 670747 )

            The "war on terr" is a vast and unspecified enemy. She did violate the terms of the Patriot Act. Sorry, but when Bush declares war on a methodology and institutes torture, we are at war with EVERYBODY and EVERYTHING....

            So, a case is easily made for TREASON by virtue of giving aid to the (undefined) enemy.

            Kill her.

    • Execute all three.

      Yeah, China called, they want their judiciary system back.

      • by grolaw ( 670747 )

        You got a problem with executing Corporations?
        You got a problem executing people who bribe government and wreak havoc on millions for their personal benefit?
        You got a problem offing the idiot for sale for $2k? (Well, you have me there - anybody hard up enough to be bought for $2k gets another chance...)

        As for China - that's not a Judicial System, it's population control!

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by amplt1337 ( 707922 )

          I have zero problem with executing corporations, since they aren't actually people anyway. And I think that someone who engages in this kind of government corruption (er, if the other posters saying she was duped are incorrect) being sentenced to hard labor, say... but I'd prefer the state didn't go around killing people, most especially on trumped-up charges of treason. That's too easily abused; seems like a slippery slope to tyranny.

          • by grolaw ( 670747 )

            Tyranny is here. Deal with it. Mr. Bush and his cronies have "wiretapped" the entire Internet and you don't think that we are facing Tyranny? Wake up!

            Meanwhile, the higher up the political food chain we can hammer the predators, the better.

            Tom Delay should be in an organophospahte nightmare. Total Information Awareness Poindexter and his ilk should be dancing on short ropes.

            This gal and her corporate weasels are the bottom feeders (although the corporate weasels are far worse than a woman who needs only

    • I'd rather see them stoned with The Washington Monument.
  • A proper caning followed by some time is in order here. A little corporal punishment could go a long way. It may push the risk/reward ratio for petty shit like this up a bit.
    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      Corporal punishment does not work. Never really has. Unless you goal is to make meaner criminals.

      The lose of employment and jail time will be planty of punishment. It would not be a detrent becasue the same thinking that went on here wouldnt think caning would happen.

      Of course, she was tricked into giving up the password, and latter was given a gift she wasn't expecting.
      Was she in the wrong regardless of expected monies? yes. Would ahve caning on the books had changed anything? no.

  • by DoofusOfDeath ( 636671 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @10:35AM (#29503813)

    Is there a common theme for the rationalizations of mostly-law-abiding people who accept bribes?

    The government is so big that it won't matter to them? They tax me so much, they owe this to me? Everyone else does it, so I'm a chump if I'm honest?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rotide ( 1015173 )

      Like it or not, money is pretty much _everything_ in this world. You need it to simply live. You need even more of it to live somewhat comfortably. You need even more of it to get decent health care. You need a bunch more to hold a job in most places as you'll need transportation. After you make some you'll want to make more so you can retire some day. All the while, most people enjoy consuming "stuff". Clothes, games, pictures, movies, etc, etc. All that takes even more money.

      My Point? Basically,

    • by selven ( 1556643 )
      You're not directly stealing from someone (psychologically/morally easier than stealing, which is the other criminal way to get money) and the money is right under your nose (practically easier than stealing).
  • by Syncerus ( 213609 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @10:57AM (#29504125)

    This article is an ideal example of a social engineering crack. Consider the comparative difficulty of a technical cracking job and compare it to the simplicity and cheapness of what actually took place. The solution was actually quite elegant in a sordid way.

    I once worked for a company that was experiencing a surge of highly organized fraud originating from Romania. Before I left, we were preparing to develop a major anti-fraud application, etc., at great expense. At one meeting I suggested that we just hire a few Romanian private detectives to knock on some doors and quietly suggest to the lowlifes that it would be healthier to leave us alone; the other people in the meeting looked at me as though I were green.


  • Social Engineering (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DrWho520 ( 655973 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @11:14AM (#29504399) Journal
    No manner of technology can defeat good, social engineering. An intelligent attack is made upon the weakest link in the system. In this case, an unscrupulous user with privileges.
  • This is what happens when a fed gets caught doing something that seriously compromises security. They get fired, prosecuted, and punished. We can argue about the degree of punishment later.

    What happens in private industry? I'm sure people get fired but do they get publicly prosecuted? Or is there a huge motivation to cover up the story so that stock prices/reputation/business in general doesn't take a hit?

    Say what you will about government corruption and incompetence but I firmly believe that U.S. feder

    • Yea, right. As witness to countless abuses by cops who only get suspended, I'll have to call complete bullshit to your theory (and that's what it is, just a theory).

      If we all lived in la-la land where government was impartial and politics wasn't ruled by special interests and rivers flowed with milk and honey....

      Government employees have waaaay more clout within the government system than employees do within a private firm (unless they're related to the owner, in which case he'll go broke employing his bum

      • by geekoid ( 135745 )

        Government empoyees are held to a higher standard.
        Do you think private gaurds that abuse people even get suspended?

        "As witness to countless abuses by cops who only get suspended, "
        I have my doubts.

    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      No often they aren't fired. To embarrassing and they will take a stock hit. I've seen worse things happen i the private sector.

      "Say what you will about government corruption and incompetence but I firmly believe that U.S. federal employees who exhibit this level of stupidity and/or corruption are distinctly more likely to be punished appropriately than are the employees of non-government business entities."

      The facts back you up on that.

The next person to mention spaghetti stacks to me is going to have his head knocked off. -- Bill Conrad