4 East Texans bilked government of millions in Red River Depot fraud scheme

Crime & Public Safety

TEXARKANA, Texas — Four people are facing federal charges after investigators uncovered an elaborate purchasing scam being operated out of the Red River Army Depot in Bowie County.

Those involved are accused of bilking $7 million from the government and paying or receiving bribes to keep it all hidden, said information released Tuesday by federal prosecutors.

The scam involves:

  • Jimmy Scarbrough, 69, of Hooks, a RRAD equipment mechanic supervisor
  • Devin McEwin, 41, of Avery, a RRAD official
  • Jeffrey Harrison, 43, of Texarkana, a vendor
  • Justin Bishop, 50, of Clarksville, a vendor

Government prosecutors say Scarbrough, the equipment mechanic supervisor from 2001 to 2019, awarded more than $7 million in contracts to Harrison and Bishop who collected the money but almost never provided the goods.

Instead of issuing bids to vendors in a competitive process, Scarbrough rigged the system by telling Bishop and Harrison what to bid on and the price to bid. When Bishop and Harrison won government contracts, Scarborough falsified paperwork to show RRAD had received the items and paid the vendors.

Bishop and Harrison paid Scarborough and RRAD supervisor McEwin more than $300,000 in bribes to keep the scam going, records show

The bribes to Scarborough included cash, rare Colt handguns, Wurfflein dueling pistols and parts and services for Scarborough’s hot rod collection — which included a red and black 1936 Ford Tudor, electric green 1932 Ford Coupe, cherry red 1951 Ford F-1 truck.

Harrison and Bishop bribed McEwin with expensive trips, work on his 1964 Ford truck and donations to Annona Volunteer Fire Department, according to prosecutors

Scarbrough, who is charged with with conspiracy to defraud the United States and 36 counts of bribery, appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Caroline Craven on Tuesday. Harrison and Bishop, have pleaded guilty to bribery charges. McEwin, who also has been charged with bribery, is scheduled to plead guilty, prosecutors said.

“Scarbrough, Harrison, Bishop, McEwin and others exploited the public trust in order to line their own pockets, and undermined the warfighting mission of the depot in the process,” U.S. Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei said. 

The scam became a focus of criminal investigators within the U.S. Army’s Criminal Investigation Command Major Procurement Fraud Unit.

“Bribery and other fraud schemes have no place in the government contracting system and those who attempt it will be caught,” said Ray Rayos, special agent-in-cCharge of the Southwest Fraud Field Office.

The unit was assisted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. Postal Inspection Service.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan R. Hornok is prosecuting the case.

“Today’s announcement highlights a successful collaboration among partner agencies as we collectively hold these defendants accountable for allegedly creating a fraudulent and deceptive scheme against the government and the people of the United States,” Dallas FBI Special Agent Matthew J. DeSarno said. “We remain committed to the aggressive pursuit of those who selfishly leverage government programs for their own personal gain.”

The defendants each face up to 15 years in federal prison. They will be sentenced later.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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