2021 | Courts

UPDATED: Former Walter Reed official sentenced to eight months in prison for accepting bribes

Germantown orthopedic company owner who gave him gifts was sentenced earlier

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This story was updated at 6:50 p.m. on Sept. 30, 2021, to include a comment from David Laufer’s attorney

A former official at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda was sentenced to eight months in federal prison on Thursday for accepting money, airplane tickets and other gifts from an orthopedics company, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced.

David Laufer, 64, formerly of Bethesda, worked as the chief of the Prosthetics and Orthotics Department from 2009 to 2019, according to his plea agreement.

During that period, Germantown-based Pinnacle Orthopedic Services gave prosthetics and orthotics materials to Walter Reed in return for payments from the government.

Pinnacle owner Bruce Thomas frequently communicated with Laufer about using blanket purchase agreements to order materials, which allowed Walter Reed to set aside money without charging a credit card or creating a contract for each purchase, according to the plea agreement.

Between 2012 and 2016, Laufer accepted airplane tickets, lodging, entertainment tickets and thousands of dollars in cash, according to a press release.

He told authorities that he accepted the gifts while seeking renewal of the blanket purchase agreements with Pinnacle. He allegedly obligated millions of dollars to Pinnacle in the process.

Laufer said he restricted the availability of blanket purchase agreements to manufacturers and distributors that Pinnacle did business with, and that he failed to disclose financial benefits he got from Pinnacle between 2014 and 2019, according to the plea agreement.

Acting U.S. Attorney Jonathan Lenzner said in a press release on Thursday that his office is “committed to holding accountable public officials like David Laufer who undermine the market and abuse their positions in government to benefit themselves at the expense of the taxpayers.”

“Laufer’s illegal acts not only unfairly helped Pinnacle Orthopedic Services, his actions also hurt other businesses and caused the U.S. government to pay more for goods and services than it should have,” Lenzner said in the press release.

Laufer, who now lives in Pittsburgh, must serve one year of supervised release following the completion of his prison time, according to the press release. He must also pay $7,890.62 in restitution.

On Sept. 9, Thomas was sentenced to eight months in prison.

Liz Oyer, an attorney from the public defender’s office who represents Laufer, wrote in an email to Bethesda Beat on Thursday, that Laufer is “a good man who has served his country with honor for many years, helping wounded warriors to find a second lease on life.”

“He deeply regrets this lapse in judgement and sincerely apologizes to his colleagues and the veterans he served,” she wrote.

Dan Schere can be reached at daniel.schere@bethesdamagazine.com