A former Philadelphia-based procurement officer for Amtrak was sentenced on Friday to one year and a day in federal prison for funneling $7.8 million in contracts to a Delaware seat-cushion company in exchange for a financial cushion of his own.
Timothy Miller, 37, had pleaded guilty to one count of bribery last year and admitted he accepted $20,000 and trips to Rehoboth Beach, Del., from Milford, Del.-based First State Manufacturing, a company that under his guidance became Amtrak’s sole vendor for upholstery on its hundreds of passenger trains.
His scheme was discovered only after First State delivered seat cushions so below standards that they ultimately had to be discarded.
Some cushions didn’t fit in the seats for which they were made. Others were missing stitching and glue. In all, Amtrak officials have estimated, the faulty cushions cost the company more than $213,000.
“Miller’s bribery scheme was a betrayal of Amtrak’s trust, and his crimes were serious and far-reaching,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric L. Gibson said in court filings. “Resources were wasted fixing substandard products supplied by [First State] when it never should have had the Amtrak business in the first place.”
Miller is set to report to prison March 4. But his hearing Friday before U.S. District Judge R. Barclay Surrick in Philadelphia could have gone far worse.
Federal sentencing guidelines called for at least three years’ incarceration, but the judge cited Miller’s cooperation with investigators in deciding to grant a much shorter punishment.
Miller’s assistance led to charges filed this month against Scott Crothers, First State’s former vice president of marketing and contract administration. According to court filings, it was Crothers who initially sought Miller’s aid to help the firm — which also lists among its clients the Washington Metro and the armed services of the United States, Israel, and Japan — land on Amtrak’s list of qualified vendors.
He also allegedly instructed Miller on how to set up a consulting company through which First State would pay his bribes. The business sent Miller thousands of dollars disguised as payments for consulting services in 2015 and 2016, prosecutors say.
“Critical [that First State] maintain the Amtrak contracts,” Crothers wrote in a July 2016 email to Miller that was cited in court papers. “This is our cash cow.… Whatever I need to do — I will do it.”
Crothers is expected to plead guilty to one count of bribery Feb. 1. And he is unlikely to be the last First State executive to face charges.
Court filings accuse the company’s former chief financial officer and executive vice president, John Gonzales, of aiding Crothers’ efforts to bribe Miller.
In addition to his prison term, Miller also agreed Friday to forfeit $18,000 in bribery proceeds and to submit to three years’ probation upon his release.