PITTSBURGH (AP) – A former contractor was sentenced on Friday to more than five years in prison for defrauding the federal government during reconstruction of the Pentagon after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Federal prosecutors said Thomas Cousar, formerly of suburban Pittsburgh, was heard exclaiming, “We’re gonna make a million bucks!” while watching TV coverage of the burning Pentagon the day after the attacks.

Cousar, 55, who now lives in Alexandria, Va., received 63 months in prison.

“I just want to remind everybody that this offense involves an exploitation of a national trauma,” Assistant U.S. Attorney James Garrett told the sentencing judge.

Garrett held a picture of the burning Pentagon as he called the scheme “a cynical exercise in greed” after Cousar’s co-defendant and live-in girlfriend, Catherine Bradica, claimed she was unaware of much of the bill padding.

Cousar, Bradica and another top employee at his now defunct Capco Contracting Inc. of McKeesport, had pleaded guilty last year to overbilling the federal government $850,000 for subcontracting repair work at the Pentagon.

The false bills padded labor hours and cost of materials used at the Pentagon, when some of the labor and materials were actually used on a restaurant and bar Cousar and Bradica owned, prosecutors said.

Bradica, 56, was Capco’s controller and managed the Pentagon subcontract. She received 41 months in prison.

Cousar’s attorney, Charles Porter argued Bradica was more to blame than Cousar because she kept the company’s records.

Capco also submitted $280,000 in phony charges for work on PNC Park, home of the Pittsburgh Pirates, and the Petersen Events Center, the basketball arena at the University of Pittsburgh. Cousar and Bradica were each ordered to repay $1.13 million to cover losses by contractors and others affected by overbilling on all the projects. That overbilling also factored into the sentences Bradica and Cousar received.

Daniel Monte, 64, of Clifton, Va., who supervised only Capco’s Pentagon work site, received 21 months in prison.

Capco employees also took materials from the Pentagon to build an office for the Dick Corp. in Tysons Corner, Va. The Dick Corp. is a general contractor based near Pittsburgh.

Capco’s bonus bills for materials and “ghost” employees were among $13.9 million Capco billed Maryland-based AMEC Construction Management Inc. from September 2001 to May 2002.

AMEC was the prime contractor on the Pentagon repairs and its project manager, Joseph Arena Jr. of Gaithersburg, Md., pleaded guilty in October 2006 to conspiracy for accepting a kickback from Capco. He is cooperating with investigators and will be sentenced May 1.

Porter, Cousar’s attorney, said others in the scheme weren’t indicted, including one Capco worker who used pilfered materials to build a garage at his home. The government “ludicrously” decides “who they’re gonna prosecute and who’s gonna be their buddies,” in cases like this, Porter told U.S. District Judge Gary Lancaster.

Porter wanted the judge to disregard the government’s claims that Cousar greedily watched the Pentagon TV coverage, because the account came from an unindicted partner in crime.

“That’s the kind of nonsense they want you to rely on,” Porter said.

AP-ES-04-17-09 1537EDT

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