Charge Filed in Salt Lake Olympics
MICHAEL J. SNIFFEN
Aug. 03, 1999
WASHINGTON (AP) _ In the first criminal case in the federal probe of whether bribery swayed the choice of a 2002 Winter Olympics site, a Salt Lake City businessman agreed today to plead guilty to a misdemeanor tax violation, the Justice Department announced.
The department said the plea stemmed from a scheme in which David E. Simmons helped the son of an International Olympic Committee member obtain lawful permanent resident status by offering the son a fraudulent job at his company, the government said. The father had a vote on which city would get the 2002 Winter Olympics.
A plea agreement was filed in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City today, and Simmons was to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ronald Boise there later today, Justice Department spokesman Myron Marlin said.
Justice officials said their probe of Salt Lake City's bid for the Olympics is continuing.
In the court documents, Simmons admitted entering into a series of sham contracts and using phony invoices to conceal the fact that the son's salary was actually being paid by the Salt Lake City Olympic Bid Committee. The agreement said Simmons employed the son, whose name was not disclosed, ``for the purpose of influencing his father's vote in favor of awarding the Olympic Winter Games to Salt Lake City.''
Formerly chairman and chief executive of Keystone Communications, Simmons is charged in a criminal information filed with the plea agreement. The criminal information charges him with causing Keystone to submit a 1992 tax return that falsely deducted the salary of this ``employee'' as a business expense. The tax charge carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a $10,000 fine.
In fact, the agreement said, Simmons knew the payments to the IOC member's son ``were not genuine salary payments, but were instead payments made under a sham employment arrangement designed to enable the ... (son) to attain lawful permanent resident status.''
Simmons agreed to cooperate fully with the investigation, which was begun last December and now involves the Justice Department, the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Customs Service.
The plea agreement must still be approved by the court.
Last winter, an ethics report produced for the Salt Lake City Olympic organizing committee, which was set up after the bid was won, said that Simmons was involved in job scam for John Kim, the son of Kim Un-yong, a powerful IOC member from South Korea.
The government's court papers said the scheme began in the summer of 1990 with an agreement between Simmons and an officer of the Salt Lake City Bid Committee for the Olympic Winter Games, whose name was not revealed.
Simmons agreed that Keystone would hire the IOC member's son in a salaried position in Keystone's New York office so the son would be eligible for permanent resident alien status. The Salt Lake Olympic Bid official promised that the bid committee would guarantee repayment of the son's salary in the event the son did not bring any business to Keystone, the documents said.
The government provided these additional details:
The IOC relative was hired as marketing manager-Asia at a purported salary of $50,000 a year beginning Oct. 29, 1990. On May 1, 1992, the son's salary was increased to $70,383 per year. He remained ostensibly on Keystone's payroll until October 1992 although he had ceased coming to the Keystone New York City office and was not performing work for Keystone.
Keystone was reimbursed for the son's salary in several ways:
_On April 21, 1992, Komar International of Hackensack, N.J., owned by the IOC member's son, which imported and exported martial-arts equipment, purportedly hired Keystone as a consultant for $30,000 on a proposed cable television venture by Komar. No consulting was done and the ``contract'' was designed so the son could reimburse Keystone for keeping him on its payroll. Over time, this contract paid Keystone $40,000.
_In May 1992, Keystone received a check for $13,216.40 from Morris Travel Inc., that Simmons considered represented a portion of what the Salt Lake City Bid Committee owed him for the son's salary.
_Keystone submitted a sham invoice to the Salt Lake City panel billing it for ``video services,'' which were not provided. Also Simmons and the Salt Lake bid official wrote a sham ``consulting contract'' under which Keystone would purportedly arrange private meetings with IOC members, although such services were never contemplated. Between Sept. 20, 1992, and April 26, 1993, under the invoice and the contract, the Salt Lake bid committee paid Keystone $45,000.
_In January 1993, Keystone submitted a sham invoice to Kobee Co. Inc., which in turn passed on to Keystone $20,000 that Kobee had received from the Salt Lake bid committee under a separate sham consulting contract.