Contracting business owner pleads guilty in fraud scheme

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TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) -

The owner of a contracting company has pleaded guilty to participating in a scheme that defrauded the government by receiving contracts intended for veterans and minorities.

Forty-three-year-old Matthew McPherson, owner of Topeka-based McPherson Contractors, pleaded guilty Monday to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and major program fraud.

Federal prosecutors say the construction firms involved received $346 million for contracts for small businesses owned by for veterans and minorities.

McPherson, of Olathe, is not a veteran or a minority and his construction company was not entitled to compete for those contracts, in what is known as "Rent-A-Vet" or "Rent-a-Minority" schemes.

The co-conspirators are accused of claiming that black, disabled veterans managed construction companies in order to receive the contracts.

The federal government has filed a lawsuit against McPherson and his co-conspirators over the fraud scheme.