probes Lenoir City firm
EOD Technology awaits military ruling on contract blacklisting
By Andrew Eder knoxnews.com
Thursday, November 15, 2007
A Lenoir City military contractor is in danger of being blackballed from
federal contracts after one of its managers in Iraq allegedly used his
intimate relationship with an Air Force contracting officer to win
millions of dollars worth of work.
In a Sept. 14 letter, the U.S. Army informed EOD Technology Inc., a
munitions disposal and security services company, that it was
considering debarment of the company, an administrative procedure that
would put EODT on the federal government's blacklist. The "show cause"
letter asks EODT for information demonstrating that the company is a
The move stems from the conduct of Eric W. Barton, the company's former
deputy manager in Iraq, who according to an Army investigation helped
secure about $2.5 million in convoy-security contracts for EODT in a
three-month period, thanks in part to inside information from Air Force
Capt. Sherrie Remington, a contracting officer.
A number of interviews by investigators, along with e-mail messages
between Barton and Remington, suggest the two began an extramarital
affair at one of EODT's all-night, alcohol-fueled "business development"
parties at EODT's compound in the International Zone in Baghdad.
One EODT employee, Mark McCloskey, said Barton approached him on Jan. 6,
2006, after one of the parties.
"Eric came to me, drunk, with documents in hand, bragging that he had
all the awarded prices of the BPA (blanket purchase agreement)
contracts," McCloskey said in a sworn statement to investigators. "He
told me, 'Sherrie, the KO (contracting officer), hooked me up.' The
documents listed mission details, date of movement, route to use, type
of cargo to be moved, assets requirement, specific instructions for the
contract, and the names of the points of contact at the pick-up and
"The key element Eric had with the documents was the dollar amount
Sherrie (Remington) hand wrote on them, which was the amount the U.S.
government paid on each contract," McCloskey continued. "With this
information, Eric knew what to bid on for future contracts."
McCloskey told investigators that he went into Barton's office and made
copies of the documents, which appear as exhibits in the investigative
Between Jan. 23 and March 4, 2006, Remington awarded EODT seven
contracts. She raised the price on six of the seven contracts, in two
cases more than doubling the payment to the company, according to Army
figures. In all, EODT brought in more than $2.5 million from the
An anonymous EODT employee brought the matter to the Army's attention
through a crime tip hotline, according to the investigative file. The
employee told investigators that EODT management turned a blind eye to
"On more than one occasion I brought up the questionable acts of my
co-workers, especially the drunken parties on the roof and was told to
'...stay in my lane,'" the employee said. "I still continued to voice my
concerns on several issues, some not related to the BPA, and was later
sent out to a site, I suspect to remove me from the scene of activity."
The relationship between Barton and Remington plays out in e-mails
recovered from Remington's computer.
In one e-mail, Remington listed companies bidding for a job, writing at
the end, "I will expect full payment tonight!!!" In another, with the
subject line "Some nice info," Remington wrote Barton with information
about a competitor's difficulties completing a mission, adding that the
mission may have to be reassigned.
In another e-mail, Remington referred to a colleague selecting an EODT
competitor for a bid: "Kevin awarded both of those missions to TDL ...
he will never go to anybody but the low bidder ... he's scared. We will
discuss more at lunch. Love you, Sherrie."
After returning home to Utah, Remington sent an e-mail to Barton saying
she had set up a special e-mail account for Barton's correspondence. The
username on the account was "loveshackiraq."
In a handwritten statement, Remington told investigators that she and
Barton had a "close friendship" in Iraq that turned romantic only after
the two returned to the United States. She said the information she gave
to Barton was for "historical purposes only," and she would release it
to any contractor on request.
"Eric has never asked for any bid information and I have never given him
any bid information," Remington wrote. She could not be reached for
According to an Army memo, the U.S. Department of Justice declined to
bring charges against Remington, Barton or EODT. The memo, dated Aug.
30, said Remington was the subject of a "military justice action" at
Hill Air Force Base in Utah.
A representative of the Air Force base said Remington's commander "took
appropriate action based on the facts of the case and the procedures set
out in the Uniform Code of Military Justice" but would not provide
further details, citing federal privacy regulations.
Barton admitted to an investigator that he had a "personal intimate
relationship" with Remington between December 2005 and her departure
from Iraq in March 2006, according to Army documents. He told the
investigator that he did not find out Remington was the contracting
officer for the convoy-security work until January 2006.
"However, he did not feel that continuing their relationship after he
became aware of this fact was an issue and denied receiving any
preferential treatment because of it," the Army memo states.
In interviews with USA Today and the San Antonio Express-News, which
first reported the story, Barton denied wrongdoing and said he was
confident the allegations would be proven false. Barton could not be
reached for comment Wednesday at his home in Friendsville, Tenn.
Erik Quist, director of business and legal affairs for EODT, said in an
e-mail that Barton resigned from the company after the Army initiated
"EODT became aware of the government's inquiry into alleged improper
conduct of its employee, Eric W. Barton, approximately a year ago,"
Quist wrote. "The company was formally contacted by the government about
the proposed debarment of Mr. Barton in September 2007. EODT is not a
part of the debarment proceeding but has been asked to provide
information to the government, which we have done. It would be
inappropriate for us to comment while the matter is under review by the
Army, so we must defer to them for any further comment at this time."
Army spokesman Dave Foster said the Army's Procurement Fraud Branch is
reviewing EODT's response to the Sept. 14 show cause letter.
"No decision has been made by the Army suspension and debarment official
regarding the status of the company; however, it has not been suspended
or proposed for debarment as a result of the show cause letter," Foster
said in an e-mail. "Mr. Barton's submission in response to his 14
September 2007 proposal for debarment is expected this week."
EODT, founded in 1987, does about 95 percent of its work overseas,
according to information on its Web site. The company said it has grown
about 80 percent annually over the last five years, with 2006 revenues
of $186 million. At least four EODT employees have been killed in Iraq.