2021 | Courts

Orthopedic company owner sentenced to prison for bribing former Walter Reed official

Germantown man gave $20,000 in gifts, officials say

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A Germantown orthopedic company owner was sentenced on Friday to eight months in prison for bribing a former official at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda.

Bruce Thomas, 53, pleaded guilty in May to giving about $20,000 worth of cash, airplane tickets, meals and other gifts to David Laufer, a former chief of the Prosthetics and Orthotics Department at Walter Reed, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The gifts were given in exchange for Laufer buying Thomas’ company’s materials for Walter Reed, the press release said.

Thomas owns Pinnacle Orthopedic Services in Germantown.
During his sentencing on Friday, Thomas was also ordered to pay a fine of $50,000 and pay restitution of nearly $28,000. Once released from prison, he will have one year of supervised release, of which four months will be home confinement.

Thomas provided prosthetics and orthotics materials to Walter Reed from 2012 to 2019, according to the plea agreement. From 2011 to 2017, Thomas and his company received more than $20 million from Walter Reed as payments for those materials.

Walter Reed used blanket purchase agreements (BPAs) to order materials during the period Laufer and Thomas had a business relationship, according to the plea agreement. The BPAs allowed the prosthetics department to set aside money for purchasing materials, but employees didn’t need to use a credit card or enter a contract.

Walter Reed awarded “multiple” BPAs to Pinnacle, and prevented other manufacturers and distributors from doing business with the hospital, according to the press release.

Laufer, formerly of Bethesda, pleaded guilty to accepting the bribe in October and awaits sentencing. He faces a maximum of two years in prison, according to the press release.

Laufer now lives in Pittsburgh.