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Former U.S. contractor pleads guilty to faking background investigations

By Elvina Nawaguna

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A former U.S. government contractor carrying out background checks on federal employees is facing up to five years in jail after pleading guilty to falsely claiming he had conducted investigations, officials said on Thursday.

Brian Rapier, 34, worked for U.S. Investigations Services Inc., (USIS), the same company that handled the background investigation of Aaron Alexis, who gunned down 12 people at the Navy Yard in Washington D.C. in September before police shot and killed him.

The Office of Personnel Management, which handles hiring for the U.S. government, contracted USIS to conduct the bulk of background checks on federal employees. The private company is facing investigations for misconduct in its handling of background investigations.

A spokeswoman for OPM said that the agency still contracts USIS to carry out background checks.

"Rapier's false representations have required Federal Investigative Services to reopen and rework numerous background investigations that were assigned to him during the time period of his falsifications, at an estimated cost of at least $173,446 to the U.S. government," a joint statement from U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen Jr. and Inspector General for the Office of Personnel Management Patrick McFarland said.

Rapier, who pleaded guilty to the charges at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, has also agreed to refund that money to the federal government.

In more than four dozen reports between June 2009 and April 2010, Rapier said that he had interviewed a source or reviewed background records for prospective federal employees, when in fact he had not.

"These reports were utilized and relied upon by the agencies requesting the background investigations to determine whether the subjects were suitable for positions having access to classified information, for positions impacting national security, or for receiving or retaining security clearances," Machen and McFarland said in their statement.

Thousands of background investigations conducted for OPM's Federal Investigative Services involve applicants who are granted access to classified information.

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia said it is currently prosecuting numerous cases since 2008 involving false representations by background investigators and record checkers working on federal background investigations.

The attorney's office said 17 other background investigators and two record checkers have been convicted of charges relating to their work for the federal government.

(Reporting by Elvina Nawaguna; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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