TAMPA — The two Orlando men were delighted in 2002 when their small business, B.I.B. Consulting, won a $50 million contract to provide foreign-language instruction for the U.S. Special Operations Command.
It was a contract earmarked by SOCom, located at MacDill Air Force Base, for a small company just like B.I.B. The men smiled brightly for a photo in a local business newsletter.
A small company was now big.
But a federal indictment this week charges the men, Eduardo Blanchet, 60, and Daniel Guillan, 55, with then forming a second company to obtain a $100 million contract with SOCom in 2007 and fraudulently concealing or minimizing their involvement in the business.
The indictment said they did so because B.I.B. was now too big and would not otherwise have qualified for the contract.
Blanchet, owner and director of B.I.B., and Guillan, B.I.B.'s vice president, were each charged with conspiracy and five counts of wire fraud.
Neither Blanchet nor his attorney could be reached for comment Wednesday. But Guillan's attorney, Bob Leventhal, said his client disputes the charges.
He noted that SOCom is still doing business with that second company — called MiLanguages — and has been doing so throughout the criminal investigation of the two men.
"Task orders have been coming in from SOCom to MiLanguages and they continue to do so," Leventhal said. "MiLanguages continues to provide instructors and is carrying out the dictates of SOCom. That's a fact."
Leventhal said the entire contract process was transparent and that SOCom was aware Guillan worked as an agent in charge of government contracts for MiLanguages.
SOCom officials could not be reached to comment.
The indictment said Blanchet and Guillan incorporated MiLanguages in August 2004. The indictment said the pair set up a straw man as president "although Blanchet and Guillan remained the de facto owners."
The indictment said the company provided foreign language instruction for military personnel through SOCom's Special Operations Forces Language Office. SOCom is one of the top commands leading wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
According to its website, the company provides instruction on 100 languages for 3,000 clients and businesses. The site says the company employs more than 400 teachers and partners with educational organizations in 40 countries.
After forming MiLanguages, the indictment said, Blanchet and Guillan set up the company as a subcontractor for B.I.B.
The indictment said the men made false representations and submitted false information to the Small Business Administration to win designation as a small business eligible to receive the SOCom contract.
In 2007, the men instructed an attorney to "send a letter to the SBA size program manager relaying that MiLanguages and B.I.B. had no common officers, shareholders or employees … and that a 'clear line of fracture' existed between B.I.B. and MiLanguages," the indictment said.
In reality, the indictment said, the two men set up MiLanguages bank accounts in which they were the only signatories.
The government has moved to seize the assets of the company and two men, including more than $7 million in bank accounts, property and vehicles. The government said it also will seek a $100 million forfeiture judgment against them.
This is B.I.B.'s second brush with controversy.
In 2005, three B.I.B. instructors who turned out to be illegal immigrants were arrested at Fort Bragg, N.C. The men were from Indonesia and Senegal and were language instructors at Joint Special Operations Command.
At the time, the arrests raised questions on whether B.I.B. had conducted proper background checks on its instructors.
Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. William R. Levesque can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3432.