A former government contractor was sentenced to 70 months in prison Friday for a corruption scheme in which he paid bribes to secure Army contracts in Hawaii while also receiving kickbacks, the Justice Department said.

John Winslett, 66, of Bristol, Rhode Island, pleaded guilty to charges in September 2019.

In court, Winslett admitted that from 2011 to 2018 he paid $100,000 worth of bribes to two Army contracting officials at Schofield Barracks in Honolulu. In return, the officials steered at least $19 million in federal contracts to Winslett’s employer, construction management firm REK Associates in Virginia.

The bribes included a 2017 Jeep Rubicon, an antique 1969 Ford Galaxie, a Harley Davidson motorcycle, diamond earrings worth more than $2,000 and a variety of guns, the Army Times reported.

A Soldier from 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, prepares to fire his M249 from the prone position at a pop-up range on Schofield Barracks, August 7, 2020. The Soldiers went to the range to qualify on their squad automatic weapons.(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Ryan Jenkins)
John Winslett spent $100,000 worth of bribes to Army officials and received $723,333 in kickbacks from a local contractor. Ryan Jenkins/U.S. Army

A press release from the U.S. Attorney General’s Hawaii District office noted that FBI agents, the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division and Defense Criminal Investigative Service investigated the case.

Winslett also admitted that he accepted $723,333.33 in kickbacks from a local subcontractor to work on the projects. Military spending has been described as one of the legs of the Hawaii economy’s “three legged stool,” with billions of dollars worth of lucrative contracts at bases across Oahu.

During the 2018 fiscal year, Pentagon spending pumped $7.2 billion into Hawaii’s economy through contracting, making up about 7.7% of the state’s GDP. That put Hawaii as second in the United States for the highest defense spending as a share of state GDP, according to the Pentagon Office of Economic Adjustment.

As the pandemic has cut into tourism, Pentagon spending has played an increasingly prominent role in the state’s troubled economy.

Help power our public service journalism

As a local newsroom, Civil Beat has a unique public service role in times of crisis.

That’s why we’re committed to a paywall-free website and subscription-free content, so we can get vital information out to everyone, from all communities.

We are deploying a significant amount of our resources to covering the Maui fires, and your support ensures that we can pivot when these types of emergencies arise.

Make a gift to Civil Beat today and help power our nonprofit newsroom.

About the Author