Owners of KC area construction company guilty in $13.8 million ‘rent-a-vet’ fraud

The owners of a Kansas City area construction company have pleaded guilty to fraudulently obtaining nearly $14 million in government contracts by falsely claiming the company was run by a veteran.

Jeffrey K. Wilson, 53, of the Village of Loch Lloyd in Belton, pleaded guilty Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Kansas City to one count of government program fraud.

Paul R. Salavitch, 57, of Kansas City, pleaded guilty Tuesday to a misdemeanor charge of making a false writing.

The fraud scheme involved a government program for businesses owned and operated by veterans.

Wilson, who is not a veteran, managed the day-to-day operations of the Patriot Construction Co.

Salavitch is a service-disabled veteran who falsely claimed to be involved in the company’s day-to-day operations. He was actually a full-time employee for the U.S. Department of Defense.

As a result of Salavitch’s disabled veteran status, Patriot won 20 government contracts worth more than $13.8 million that it was not entitled to receive.

Federal prosecutors said that because of the fraud, legitimate veteran-owned or run businesses were not awarded the contracts.

Wilson will face a sentence of up to 18 months in federal prison while Salavitch could face up to one year in federal prison.

They will also be required to forfeit about $2.1 million.

In a similar case, another area business owner was recently charged in a $40 million fraud scheme.

Tony Rizzo: 816-234-4435, @trizzkc