Ex-BLM official sentenced to three years in prison

A corrupt former Bureau of Land Management official will spend three years in federal prison for manipulating contracts he managed and defrauding the agency's Medford office out of close to $500,000.

A federal judge Monday in Medford also sentenced Luis Ramirez, 57, to three years' federal probation and ordered him to repay the BLM $481,602.47 he swindled while a contract officer from 2004 to 2007.

U.S. District Court Judge Owen Panner's sentence was more than two years less than what federal prosecutors asked for — 63 months in prison, which also was the maximum in a range computed using federal sentencing guidelines, court reports state.

However, it was almost thrice that of a defense attorney's request that Ramirez spend one year and one day in prison.

During a sentencing hearing this morning in U.S. District Court in Medford, Panner gave Ramirez 60 days to report to the federal Bureau of Prisons to begin his sentence.

He pleaded guilty in June to five counts of wire fraud, along with single counts of personal financial conflict of interest and making a false tax return statement.

Ramirez was an operational forester for the agency's Ashland Resource Area and a BLM's contracting officer's representative who administered BLM contracts with private contractors here.

Ramirez crafted an intricate scheme to manipulate contracts as well as the contractors under his control, using a series of wire transactions to funnel the money to himself without any indications of illegal profiting.

Ramirez also funneled subcontractor work to Evan Ramirez, his 30-year-old son and co-defendant in the case.

Prosecutors said Ramirez used the bilked BLM money to pay for extensive travel abroad for his family, an extensive remodel his Medford home and a condo timeshare in the Bahamas as well as to send Evan Ramirez to Boston University, court papers state.

Evan Ramirez, of Boston, earlier pleaded guilty to a count of making a false tax return statement in 2007 for failing to report $18,055 of income to the IRS, records show.

Panner on Monday also sentenced Evan Ramirez to three years' federal probation that includes one year of home detention. He also fined the younger Ramirez $2,000 and ordered him to pay $6,988 in restitution to the government.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or mfreeman@mailtribune.com.

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